The Greatest Parenting Tip of All Time

Pull up a chair, I am about to impart the best parenting advice I can give you. Even better than “never sit on a toilet seat in the dark”.

Forget “sleep when the baby sleeps” or “enjoy it while they’re young, they grow up so fast.” And don’t even try to tell me “buy the off brand cereal, they’ll never notice.” No, my friend, the best advice I can offer after some twelve years in the parenting trenches is a simple phrase. If committed to memory, these three words will get you out of most, if not all situations requiring answers you do not have.

Sometimes you don’t have wifi, sometimes your device isn’t handy, and sometimes you just don’t want to exert the effort because thinking hurts your brain. There’s no judgement here. The questions might be too complex, or illogical, or ridiculous (please see previous about brains hurting). That’s when this handy phrase is your best friend.

A word of caution: use this in any situation, but pace yourself. If your children hear it in too quick a succession they might retort with “stop saying that and just tell me the answer!” in which case you have to pull out the big guns. Yes, you might need to tell them to “save that question for when you get to heaven.” It is question kryptonite, so use it carefully.

Alright, enough preamble. The most important phrase you should commit to memory is…

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“I know, right?”

Skeptics might doubt me, but years fielding questions from hundreds of young students and my own four offspring provide enough anecdotal evidence (plus my twitter friends agree with me). What more data do you need? None. Just trust me. Below I have listed just a small selection of questions that I have answered with a sympathetic, “I know, right?” ALL QUESTIONS WERE SHUT DOWN.

What if your hand was just made out of the foam fingers and you had to switch every time for different numbers?

Why do you have so many pillows on your bed that you don’t use?

Why do extra boogers fall down into your mouth?

Why are light sabres so hot?”

How do they build buildings that are taller than the builder?

How does the microwave make things hot?

Why is honey sticky?

Why do stores have those restaurants in them? Like you buy lumber and a sandwich?

How can we stand on the earth when it’s round?

If cucumber is a fruit, why isn’t there cucumber pie?

How did they make the very FIRST ruler and make IT straight?

When something new is made it takes up space so the sky should get smaller, but it doesn’t. Why?

Why are tongues wet?

Why is it Saturday?

How do people that don’t have the same eye colour know that they’re really seeing the same colour?

Why do spiders go in the water if they can’t even survive?

Why is our van so dirty (I feel like this one is obvious)

Why do moms like coffee?

Why do moms like wine?

If used effectively this response can get you out of almost any situation. I have even applied it to the trickiest question of all:

Where did all the jujubes go? I was saving them.

I know, right?

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Bookends and Swings

“Are you taking just the Bookends then?” Bearded Husband asked as I headed out the door. That was a new nickname he came up with as I got ready to take our oldest and youngest to the park. The Middles were happy playing Camp in our bedroom, so I opted to leave them be.

Off we went, the Bookends and me. Those two boys look the most alike of the four. Watching the toddler sometimes takes me back eight years to that special time I had with just #1.  We don’t often have a lot of time together, just me and the Bookends, my babies.

As we walked to the park, Oldest asked Little if he wanted a piggyback ride because, “I can do that you know, Mommy.”  I remember giving you all kinds of piggyback rides, baby, and am glad you still ask for them albeit less often.

Oldest raced to the swings, his main reason for coming along. He loves to scale the poles and climb. He is particularly fond of swinging higher and higher and then jumping off.  I stopped myself from saying “be careful” and instead admired his abilities. I remember when the slide was too scary to try without me, buddy, now look what you can do.

“Watch me, Mommy! See what I did, Little? Want to come on the swings with me?”

Little raced over and hopped onto the swing beside his biggest brother.

“No high, Mommy, no high.”

“Go high?”

“Yeah, no, no high.”

“Not too high?”

“Yeah.”

You got it, baby boy. 

And there I was pushing my Bookends on the swings. Memories of taking #1 to the park just the two of us came flooding back, followed by snapshots of each of my boys at that age. The giggles, the grins, grabbing their little feet.

“I want to swing at the same time as Little,” Oldest asked. So I changed the pace so they could swing side by side. They grinned at each other, swinging in tandem. But slowly, Oldest was going higher and faster again and they were back to their own rhythms. After a few moments, Oldest abandoned the swings and Little started to follow. I sat down and slowly began swinging on my own. And I thought, this is how it’s going to be. My boys are becoming their own persons.

Then my Oldest, my original baby boy, turned back and came to push me. And Little hopped onto my lap. And I could smell the sand and heat from his neck and see Oldest’s shadow as he gave us one last push before climbing a new challenge. I watched him scale the fire pole with Little cuddling with me and I realized: This is how it is supposed to be. 

We walked home for dinner and Little decided it was okay to hold our hands. As we walked along, Oldest and I did “One, Two, Three…Wheee!” and swung Little repeatedly the whole way. Yesterday, I was the little one being swung, I blinked and I was the one swinging. Slow down, slow down.

“We don’t have time like this very often, just the three of us do we, Mommy?”

No, baby, but we should. We will, my Bookends.