Dear Parents of Children under the age of 5,
You all know that I hate giving advice. Really I do. But sometimes I need to impart my wisdom on you all. And really, no matter what stage of life you’re in, kids or not, you really should read anyway.
When your children are young- start traditions.
What do I mean by traditions? I mean any type of event that your family can do, that is done on a somewhat rotational basis. (sort of like Christmas in July…I never thought I could get so much mileage out of something)
Why have traditions?
- They are Kodak moments. I have pictures of my daughter at the same sign for the past 12 years. If I were to line up the photos, it would be like a flip book of her becoming a teenager.
- They are instant flash backs- they root you to a certain time and a certain place- and when your kids were young
- They’re fun
- Everyone will really look forward to them
- When your kids get older, they will have their own lives. They will have too much homework, part time jobs, practices and friends. But they will find time for traditions
- Because kids really do grow up too fast
Real Life Example:
School is a big part of many children’s lives. After completing Kindergarten I thought that my daughter deserved a celebration. When I asked her what she wanted to do, she asked if we could go to dinner at Cowgirl. Cowgirl is a fun restaurant filled with foods that I don’t allow her to go eat on a consistent basic- I don’t mind junk food, (I actually love food that is not healthy) but for the most part we eat healthy. Her favorite thing at Cowgirl is their special dessert- vanilla ice cream coated with cocoa powder, topped with whipped cream, and little pats of yellow icing. It is surrounded by chocolate sauce, and topped with chopped up pistachio. It is built to resemble a baked potato. When you are 5, (and older) this place is heaven. And we started coming to this place on the last day of school.
This year, my daughter was in Costa Rica on the traditional last day of school (in high school in NYC, this “day” is actually 10 minutes of running in to get your report card and then exiting the building as quickly as humanly possible), so we weren’t able to do our tradition till last week. We sat at the table and talked. We spoke of upcoming college tours, AP classes, and the PSAT. It was a stark reminder that there weren’t going to be too many more report card day dinners at Cowgirl.
When we ordered, I admit I let my daughter go a little crazy. She asked if we could order just appetizers, and I thought- sure- how big are apps anyway? OK- here’s the problem with going to a restaurant only once a year- you forget how big the portions are. Even the appetizers.
Very long story short: My daughter ate too much. Too much veggie quesadilla. Too much Frito pie (yes- Frito pie- they open up a bag of Fritos and plop veggie chili, cheese and sour cream on top). too much strawberry lemonade, too much ice cream baked potato. Too much.
We decided to walk home, it’s probably about a mile, mile and a half, but we needed to digest. Well, I needed to digest. The Daughter….well, lets just say she really wasn’t feeling well. At all. She looked at me, and said “I think I’m going to be……..blhhhhhhh” I’m happy we were at a corner with a trash can, and that I steered her there just in time. I took out my tissues (Moms carry tissues) and wiped her face, her hair, her hands (because she tried to catch it…..I told her that was probably not a great idea.)
Me: You OK?
Daughter: I feel much better now. Wow, I haven’t thrown up since third grade, Wow, and we’re on Charles Street- that’s ironic- upchuck on chuck street…….
Me: Do you need anything?
Daughter: I’m sorry.
Me: Don’t be sorry. It’s ok. I’m glad you’re feeling better.
Daughter: Thank you for taking care of me. I love you.
And she held my hand as we walked. And I kissed the top of her head. At this moment she looked so young, so vulnerable. I didn’t see the sophisticated teen wardrobe, I didn’t see the high school junior. I saw all those Cowgirl dinners flash before my eyes. I saw my baby, because she’ll always be my baby- no matter how old she is.
When we got home, she smiled and hugged me.
Daughter: Thanks Mommy. That really was a great night. Vomit and all.
Me: It was a great night. Love you!
But in my head, this is what I said:
Me: Thank you for giving me great memories, Thank you for being an amazing daughter. I am going to miss these days. But we’ll always have Cowgirl.