Friday, January 3, 2014

Default Parenting and What I Know For Sure

"I'll give you three clues and we'll see if you can find the salt," he told the eager children.  "Who wants to go first?"

They all wanted to go first, but took turns patiently.  When the child found the salt container the other children cheered for them and complemented their clever nature.  The simple game carried on for almost an hour.

No, this isn't a scene from the f*cking Waltons, this was my living room last night.   
A proud Wade holding his Salt high in the air after winning his round. Woot. Woot.

We played Find the Salt.  Never heard of it?  Yeah, because it is a totally made up game and my kids loved it.  While one one kid hid the salt, one kid closed their eyes and plugged their ears, the other kids made a lot of noise (which we specialize in doing) and then that kid had to find the salt based on three clues.  For example, Lucy hid the salt in the laundry basket full of clothes that I was folding.  Tim's clues for the seeker were #1 opposite of clean, #2 wrinkly and #3 mom spends a lot of her time doing this.  JT, the seeker in this round, found it right away. Niiice.

There are a lot of parenting books/magazines/web sites/blogs that tell you to get back to basics.  Simplify.  Don't buy your kids every gadget and new tablet available.  Great advice right?  I totally believe it's great advice.  It's just advice I don't need.  Because you see we are kind of teaching that whole "get back to basics" lesson no matter what.  We are sort of doing the "right" thing by default.

We simply can't afford every new gadget or fancy anything (hence the Find the Salt game).  We have a good life, just not a very fancy one.  And here's the what...we are really happy.

Tim and I wrestle with wanting more for our kids and wishing we could impress the hell out of them by whisking them off to Disney World and buying them each an iPhone 5.  But for now, they will have to settle for the Ohio Turnpike rest area arcades,  Blizzards at Dairy Queen and taking turns on our family iPad,a first generation antique with a cracked screen.

I'm not complaining, I am marveling.  The experts are right.  My kids are happy.  They are grateful when they get something extra or special.  They understand the value of things and have heard "that's too expensive" before.  We don't want them to worry about money or not having enough, but I don't think there is anything wrong with telling them that we are a family that can't afford to do or buy certain things.

My kids read this to me yesterday after shoveling our driveway. We all had a good laugh.
I've always been a little mistrustful of those "don't sweat the small stuff" books and "keep it simple" people.  Maybe because years ago a guy at my work, a really nice, wonderful guy, whose cubicle was decked out in "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff" paraphernalia died of a massive heart attack. It didn't really teach me any lessons except that life is totally unfair and sucks.  So, yeah, I'm a cynic and not sure that I would be very disciplined to do the "right" parenting thing if I was really wealthy.

So yay! I'm so not wealthy and don't have to worry about crossing that whole do-I-buy-my-kids-an-iPhone-5-or-not bridge.  And what do I know? I'm no expert  Maybe my kids are going to be totally scarred from the Find the Salt game and the free nature walks and the low-budget road trips, but right now, today, they seem pretty happy and well-adjusted, I know that for sure.
Our first nature walk of 2014.  They were counting deer. I was hiding in the bushes because I am afraid of deer.

My kids living it up at the rest area arcade
like it's Disney World.

All snuggled up watching a movie. Awwwww.

Here's what else I know for sure this week:

  • We can't stop singing the Frozen soundtrack.  And I don't want to, it's so good.  This is one of my favorites--Love Is An Open Door.  

  • Toys aren't just for the kids after Christmas.  
Tim at Wade's easel.

  • I may not know what day it is because of holidays and school breaks, but on Sunday I will be watching (or recording and then watching) Jimmy Fallon's special.  Because he is funny and I love funny.

  • My kids are loving Calvin and Hobbes.  My brother loved the comic books when we were kids and he's given my kids a book every Christmas for the past few years.  So fun to see them share that with him, with each other, with the little brothers. 

  • I need to work out and get healthy.  It's just way overdue.  I have fallen off the fitness wagon which I never thought would happen to me.  But January seems like a good time to get real with myself and that means making a commitment.  Not only to working out, but to going to the doctor for check ups, getting the mammogram my OB suggested two years ago, rescheduling that dentist appointment I cancelled because one of the kids had something or needed something.  And resolving not to feel guilty or self-indulgent about making my health a priority.

  • I like Carson Daly better than Ryan Seacrest. After flipping back and forth between the two on our really rockin' New Year's Eve, that is my conclusion. 

What do you know for sure (this week)?  C'mon, we're friends, share what you know. 

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  1. Awesome post! I love your photos, too.

    I also agree with you about Carson Daly. Have you watched him in the Orange Room on The Today Show?

  2. oh no question - carson is way less smarmy and plastic.

    also, so weird - we totally made the same resolution! after having a minor "cardiac event" in october (what?! i know! i'm only 39!) i have to take better care of myself. like, for real - not just talk about it, but be a grown up and make my appointments and keep them and get new glasses for goodness sake.

    i totally feel you on the "not every new gadget" thing too. we play scavenger hunt a i make a list of random things (a piece of string this [--------] long, a feather, something sparkly, etc.) and then give them a basket and GO! it's seriously the best game and they love it. (also helpful at grown-up events where they're bored. "go find 2 red leaves. okay, now go find a caterpillar."