We are put in charge of the survival and growth of an ACTUAL living, breathing human, without ANY directions or even a basic operating manual, and then there are at least 10 kazillion books with entirely different opinions on how to go about it, and you absolutely have to pick the right one or you will definitely ruin your kid and fail at what is, we all know, a bit of a life-or-death kind of situation.
I have been parenting for eight years, and have spent my share of those years caught up in a good bit of confusion and frustration, mixed, of course, with epic amounts of love… throwing parenting books across the room, Googling the 648 possible causes of a tummy ache, and generally being certain they should definitely make you pass a licensing exam of some kind before they let you have kids. Ya feel me?
So, I think it’s safe to say we could probably all use some help with this enormous task of helping tiny humans grow into reasonably sane, hopefully kind and happy adults, right?
It’s time to bring in the experts. And lucky for you, I’ve found some.
Aren’t you excited? You’ve been doing this all these years, walking blind… and now I’ve got the ones with all the answers.
Each column, I’ll spend time with various members of an exclusive and elite group of Parenting Experts — namely, random human beings under the age of 13 who were willing to talk to me for a few minutes.
Who better to shed some light on the monumental act of parenting than the ones being parented?
Where necessary, names have been changed or eliminated. Sometimes, their insights are heartbreakingly deep. Sometimes…they’re about poop. But, for better or worse, the charmingly absurd, often distracted, eye-opening and occasionally sobering dialogue has been delivered here for your enjoyment and enlightenment.
Our first Expert Advice interview is with a 5-year-old boy.
How old are you?
Five. I’m 5.
What’s your favorite animal?
Tigers…what are you doing?!
I’m writing. What’s the worst food you’ve ever had to eat?
Huh…let’s see. Um…Poop! [*laughter*] OK. Erase it. It’s not poop. Probably green beans. No, I like green beans. I don’t know. I don’t even know what my favorite food is. I don’t know what my worst food is. I know what my favorite food is. Hmmm…probably veggies.
Did you know that green beans are a vegetable?
OK, just say “no green beans.” Good. No green beans.
How many people are in your family?
I don’t know! [begins to whisper names….Gramma… dad… sister….etc.] Does it count me?
[continues naming family members]……I can’t count!!! There’s too much.
Alright, we’ll move on then. I have some more to ask you, OK? Are you ready?
What’s the most important thing parents should teach their children?
School, I guess? (Shoutout to the new reality of pandemic homeschooling!)
What makes you feel most loved by your parents?
When my mommy hugs me. That’s when. When my daddy and mommy hug me. That is my favorite.
What do your parents do that makes you mad?
[They do] everything to make me mad. Everything that would make somebody mad, [they do].
Like everything that would make somebody mad.
Right. My bad. I should have known. Well, is there anything that would help when you feel mad?
I don’t know.
If you were a parent what would you do to help your kids when they were mad?
I would let them play my Nintendo. That’s what I would let them do if I was a parent, to help.
What do you think makes a good parent?
I definitely know! Bringing [your kids] to a water park! I definitely know because that would be my answer to everything.
What’s the best thing about being a kid?
That I can help with most stuff. ‘Cause I’m tiny, I can go under stuff and reach more stuff and get more stuff. If something goes under the table and nobody else could, and I could, that’s what I like about being a kid.
Love it. OK…What should parents never do?
Hurt my feelings. If they’re playing they can because that’s what friends do. But not if they’re not playing. [pause] Can I draw a smiley face on this paper? Right here? Like right here?
[Shows me his picture] That’s a girl with lipstick!
Nice! So, what’s the best thing that your parents have taught you?
I don’t know. ……..[gleefully] Now I’ve said ‘I don’t know’ to THREE THINGS, right??
Haha, yes you have. What should good parents say?
Umm…They love me??
What should good parents never say?
That they want to hurt me! Or that they don’t love me! That’s what they shouldn’t say.
What do you like to do with your parents?
Have fun with them or go to swimming pools with them.
Thanks for letting me interview you, buddy. Is there anything else you want to tell parents?
Yeah! I love you!!
Aw….To your parents? What about to all the parents in the whole wide world?
[Looking quizzically at me like I clearly don’t get it] Uhhh…I love them. Yes, that.
That’s all for this week….Tune in next time to hear from our next Expert: a girl going on 9 years old. In the meantime, a virtual fist-bump of solidarity to all of you fellow parents in these gorgeous, difficult trenches.
It’s the love that counts.
Shannon is a mother of two who likes to run, work out, and drink wine. Except the truth is, she actually only likes to do one of those things.