Never Do Anything Nice For Your Kids (Or: The Best Things In Life Are Tickles)
By Yasmine Abbasakoor
PHOTO © @chasingamberphotography/Twenty20
Apr 20, 2018
A wise woman (my sister and first-draft editor) once told me, ‘"Never do anything nice for your kids." She, of course, was being facetious. She is kind to her children every minute of every day. But I had planned what should’ve been a perfect day, and it went sideways and I was venting.
Do kids love hotels for the star count, or the fact that there’s no laundry room, kitchen or adult distractions?
You should never do anything nice for your children. This seems cruel, however, every parent has known the sentiment. You feel like a superhero surprising them with an unexpected ice cream and then the tantrums start over two scoops instead of one, or because the treat is melting or the toppings are not plentiful enough. At this point you put on your Joker smile as you try not to explode. Every time it happens you start to wonder, why do we even bother? Or even worse, have we completely spoiled them?
There are endless examples of good intentions gone awry. Load up the car, pack a lunch, price out the best package and time your departure perfectly. Arrive at the amusement park and they crab about wanting a toy, or the lineups or more slushies.
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Empathize with them over the monotony of the school year and let them play hooky for a special day together. Then spend four hours asking them to politely stop fighting and two hours fuming.
You feel like a superhero surprising them with an unexpected ice cream and then the tantrums start over two scoops instead of one...
So, you’ve got a choice here. Option one is to never do anything nice for them because they don’t appreciate it anyway. (And I’m not sure young children have the capacity to understand just how much the VIP pass or trendy new ice creams cost.)
Or our other option is to try to remember what they do appreciate. For five years I’ve been growling “imma gonna get you!” as I chase my kids upstairs and tickle them to exhaustion on the bed. It has NOT gotten old. And the only thing my son truly wants is for me to devote 20 minutes to a one-on-one basketball game with him — without the distraction of neighbours, his bike-riding sister or dinner prep.
And all my daughter wants (I say this like it’s easy, but this request challenges me) is to sit and play babies together. Usually I’m the babysitter while she goes off to work. But she doesn’t trust me, because she’s always coming back to check on Baby Cait.
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Do kids love hotels for the star count, or the fact that there’s no laundry room, kitchen or adult distractions? All they want is our undivided attention. An ice cream cone would be so much easier.
So, every time we try to pull off a grand gesture maybe we should check our motivation. Are we making up for all the times we picked up our phone during Baby Cait’s birthday parties? Or the times we told him to practice on his own a little longer while we finished cleaning a kitchen that will never be clean?
Maybe our intentions are pure and true and in that case, we just need to make sure our expectations are realistic. Either way, whether we lower our expectations or scrap the big day for a little one-on-one time, we have to remember: the best things in their lives, are us.