Kids Don’t Care!
I’m just gonna say it: KIDS DON’T CARE. Seriously! If you have a headache. Or if you’re tired. Or if you’re in a bad mood. Or if you’re stressed. Or if you’ve got money issues. Or if you’re having trouble at your job. They. Don’t. Care!
They’re all about just enjoying the moment. And frankly, that’s the way it should be.
I’m stating this because every so often I find myself getting mad at my boys because they’re screaming or fighting or going nuts when I’m in the middle of a tight deadline or (insert your stressful situation here). Granted, they shouldn’t be screaming or fighting or going nuts” and that should be addressed, but the fact that I’ve got a tight deadline really shouldn’t be their concern. So when I’m yelling “I’ve got a tight deadline!” it doesn’t really register with their sensibilities. They just know I’m mad. Frankly, when they’re suddenly silent and staring at me, I know they’re just thinking, “What a cranky old fart!” (Hopefully, they’re not thinking anything worse.)
I really started thinking about this at the end of last summer. Our family took a trip to Mexico, and it was a ton of fun. It was also a lot of stress. Both my wife and I still had work to deal with (my wife more than me) so the trip was more of a “working holiday”. You know, the kind of trip where it’s really hard to “just enjoy it” because you’re just as worried about the email you have to send as making sure the kids are double-basted in sunblock.
But of course, our boys weren’t working. For kids, EVERY holiday is full of wide-eyed wonder. They’re soaking everything in – the sights, the sounds, even the guys trying to give you tequila shots while you’re still in the airport! That’s what makes being a kid so special. And you don’t realise these things until you’re an adult. It’s our job as parents to soak up the stress. In effect, we’re the “firewall” protecting our kids from the everyday pain and stress of life (and hopefully, shielding them from the tequila-shots guy!)
Yeah, it’s seriously tough raising kids in the middle of everything. But that’s not what my kids should have to face now. Enough of that will come once they’re adults…
My boys don’t care how hard it is to plan out an itinerary to go on holiday. Or finding a good place to stay. Or sweating how much it’s going to cost. Or even, how to fit in a conference call before going on a snorkel cruise. They just want to build sand castles, or catch frogs, or play in the water. Seriously, what do you remember from being a kid? And frankly, as a parent, what do you remember from your last holiday? It’s most likely not the cost, but the memories you made.
That said, trying to work on a family holiday is hard as hell. There are countless interruptions, plus the anxious feeling that not only are you missing out – but you’re ruining it for everyone. The kids are quick to point this out, too! In fact, they prey upon it – “Why aren’t you going to the poooool?!” But obviously, these things are unavoidable (S’mon, who wants to work on holiday?) So you do your best to make things fun.
And now, I’m finally getting to what started this all: I vaguely remember the challenge of getting work done before we went out on that snorkel cruise. But all my kids remember is seeing that huge fish! (“A tuna!”) and getting launched off of an inflatable into the water. (Oh, and the guy with the pet iguana who only charged 20 pesos to take a picture with it.) Yes, they remember that experience spent with us – and that’s it. Not the pain of scheduling it, or the work calls, or the (epic) money spent. Yup, mission accomplished!!
And years from now, I’m pretty sure none of us will remember that there was a conference call squeezed in before-hand that made EVERYONE cranky, and anxious, and rushed.
Ultimately, life isn’t easy. And as we grow older, there’s all kinds of stress and responsibility. Yeah, it’s seriously tough raising kids in the middle of everything. But that’s not what my kids should have to face now. Enough of that will come once they’re adults.
At the end of the day, I’m glad to know that all my boys have to worry about is having fun. Or taking a picture with an iguana! Seeing the smile on their faces, and sharing that thrill, is what’s really gonna stick with me – and them. That’s the kinda stuff I remember when I was a kid… (Sigh)…
If only I could go back to being a kid.
Sanderson Dean is a Hollywood copywriter and author of Stark Raving Dad: Poems for the Frazzled Parent in All of Us (Running Press). You can find him on Facebook here. This article has been republished with permission.