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The more things change ...

May 29, 2008 - Betsy Bethel
Have you ever noticed how being a parent turns you back into a kid?

There are the obvious things, of course: playing with Play-Doh and fingerpaints, cavorting on the playground, building with blocks. You forget how much fun these activities were!

Then there are those things that take me back to childhood by surprise. Like the other day, I found myself stealing a cookie out of the cookie jar! As I reached up and carefully removed the ceramic lid and then replaced it, trying not to make a sound, I was catapulted back in time to my grandmother's kitchen and her ceramic turtle cookie jar. Back then, I was trying to keep any adults from knowing I was spoiling my dinner. This time, I wanted to keep Emma, who was playing in the next room, from wanting a cookie that would spoil HER dinner. Yes, I should have just exercised my will power rather than sneaking around, but old habits die hard!

Another way I feel like a kid again is in the way my imagination is getting a workout. To interact with a 2-year-old, you have to think like a 2-year-old, and my 2-year-old has an overactive imagination. She also likes concrete answers. So, when she refuses to come upstairs because she is pretending to be stuck in the mud at the bottom of the stairs, the only way to get her to move is to think up new ways to get her unstuck. And when she asks repeatedly where the ice cream truck is, it does no good to say "I don't know" or "He's not here right now." She'll just keep asking until I say something like, "He had to go to the North Pole to get more ice."

Sometimes in my rushing around, I get annoyed with Emma's constant playfulness. My husband is so much better at playing with her than I am -- he never gets frustrated when she knocks down his block towers (he nicknamed her "Emmazilla" at a very young age!). I, on the other hand, get into the game too much, wanting my tower to be perfect, and inwardly getting bummed out when Emmazilla comes crashing through. Dad also doesn't get impatient when she wants to tackle him over and over and over and over. He's an impatient man by nature, so I am constantly impressed with this side of my husband.

I think dads are wired differently than moms. For instance, it's easier for them to ignore the dishes in the sink and the dirt on the carpet. They don't get distracted by the dust on the TV and the buzzing of the dryer. And they're never too old to act like kids!

Emma's dad is out of town for a week or so, so I'm going to have to compensate. I have to keep reminding myself to lighten up. After all, you're only a kid once ... until you have one of your own!


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