My girls have been on Spring Break all week and, because of my new career, this is the first time that I’ve been the one that got to spend all of the time-off with them. Due to a combination of unseasonably cool weather and “we can’t do that without Mom” we’ve stayed pretty close to home, but I know they’ve enjoyed a little recharge before heading into the homestretch of the school year.
Today we’re going to venture out for a little fun before they start “mentally preparing” (their words) to go back to school on Monday. I don’t know everything that they have in mind for the day yet, but it does have me thinking about one of the really unique parts of being a parent that they don’t really mention on the brochure. I mean, sure, even when you’re young and don’t have kids yet, you automatically assume it’s going to be awesome and you’re going to be great at it. You’ll do all of the cool things with your little Mini-Me that your folks never did. You’re going be the Dad that takes your kids on all of the awesome vacations, buys them the coolest things and carves out this Yoda-like relationship where you have the perfect thing to say at every moment to give your kids this super deep and philosophical existence.
Turns out… a lot of being Dad is “Did You…” questions.
Did you brush your teeth?
Did you finish your homework?
Did you remember clean your room?
Did you know your underwear is hanging out?
Did you punch your Sister?
Not any real zen or Earth-shattering stuff.
But for all of those little mundane parenting moments where you’re asking stupid questions instead of imparting great wisdom, I’ve come to find that little parenting gem that they don’t tell you about. Even other parents don’t mention it going in because, frankly, I think they’re afraid to jinx it. I call it “The Kid Pass”.
“The Kid Pass” is beautiful in its simplicity. It represents all of those things that you did as a kid, that you don’t really get to do anymore as an adult without serious social stigma, that are now back in your life because you have children. No one talks about it. It’s almost like a little secret club. Sometimes you’ll catch eyes with another Dad and kind of give that knowing nod because you both know you’re on a pass. It’s arguably the greatest benefit of “Dad-dom”.
I mean… sure… there’s that whole unconditional love… raising a good human being… blah blah blah….
“The Kid Pass” though… It’s pretty awesome.
If you’re not a parent yet or your little ones are still too small for your pass to have arrived, I thought I’d share a little list of my favorites. And, again, that’s the beauty of the thing, where your pass works may be completely different from mine. Results and mileage may vary.
* Morning Cartoons — If you’re a single adult over the age of 23, watching Rocko’s Modern Life in your pajamas while eating cereals directly from the box means you’re either high or you have suffered a head trauma. When you’ve got kids, that’s quality time.
* Wiffle Ball — You thought your wiffle ball career ended when you were 14. You thought you’d seen your last screwball. Now you’ve got kids. Not only are you back on the circuit, you’re the Babe Ruth of your front yard. Every little kid on the street is chanting your name as you’re hitting moonshot over the neighbor’s berm.
* Play Dough — Mmmmm… it’s been a decade since you sniffed that sweet, sweet nectar that IS a fresh can of Play Dough. Not only is the Fun Factory back open for business, you’re suddenly the Michelangelo of modeling compound. While the kids are happy to pull off a snake or a snowman, you’re doing elaborate pieces while also managing to police the whole “don’t mix the colors” situation.
* Miniature Golf — You try to make it out to the full-size links as often as possible, but leave the frustrated duffer that you are. Hello, windmill! You take the kids putt-putt golfing and suddenly you’re going for the green jacket against that stupid clown’s head on your pint-sized 18th at Augusta. Plus, when you shoot a snowman on the mini-golf course…it’s an actual snowman!
* Toys R Us — Wandering the aisles by yourself checking out all of the new stuff when you’re a 40-year-old man is, frankly, a little creepy. When you’ve got your kids and you spend an hour at TRU – you’re a Hero!
* Science Fair Projects — When you were in school, most likely, you dreaded these things. You probably still have a bad taste in your mouth (literally) from that baking soda volcano. Now you’ve got power tools and the internet. You’re whipping up contraptions that would make Don Herbert take notice.
* Hide & Seek — This one is a bit of a double-edge sword. As a 6’2″ 215 pound adult, it’s way more difficult to find good hiding spots. On the flip-side, you’re like the Sherlock Holmes of seeking.
* Kid’s Music — This may be the most commonly exercised use of “The Kid Pass”. You’re at work unknowingly singing a Taylor Swift song quietly at the water cooler when the boss walks up and catches you…. Kid Pass. You pull up to a light with the window down and you’re belting out a Veggie Tales Silly Song with Larry…. Kid Pass. You can tell the difference between Selena Gomez and Demi Lovato two bars into a song on Radio Disney… BOOM… Kid Pass!
Some people say that parenting is a thankless job…
…those people are idiots.
If you’re not thankful everyday for your role as a parent… AND you see it as a job… you’re doing it wrong.
Parenting is a gift and a blessing. If you do it right, you’ll get back ten-fold everything that you give. If there is anything thankless about it… it’s the fact that I don’t say thank you enough for what it has given me.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, my girls and I have a tee-time for this afternoon. That windmill isn’t going to play itself.