What you really want your kids to have.

Parenting has become a bit of an art form in recent times. There are a lot of people making a lot of money out of talking to  parents about creating the best kids they can. (Some completely self-absorbed people even write a blog or two on the subject!)

It intrigues me. I’d love the answers too, if it was as simple as that. I don’t mind reading a book or two on what the experts reckon. In fact, I even gave up my beloved yoga class the other night to go to a parenting session. I realised my mistake when the first thing this ‘guru’ did was laugh at us all for coming out to learn how to be a better parent. Yep, at that point I was very much regretting my choice of Thursday night activity. Not to mention the tiny wooden chairs they make you sit on.

Since then, I’ve been hanging out with the Wild Child and his kinder buddies at Bush Kinder. It’s this amazing concept where the kids go outside and play. Yep, I know, ground breaking! (Pardon the pun.) We have also done the usual bit of park time and even got to cook some snags on the bbq at the beach this weekend. And my funny little boys have spent hours in the backyard.

Nothing really very different or very exciting has been happening and yet I feel like I really learnt something. No one told me. I wasn’t reading anything. It wasn’t even on a hilarious social media meme. Stink and the Wild Child  had embarrassed the pants of me the usual five or so times that week by being, well to be fair, just little boys, but it felt like we were the subject of some kind of caricature. Picture two feral, stick wielding horrors with their mother tearing her hair out in the background as she drank straight from the cask of wine in the fridge.

And then one afternoon I dragged myself away from the fridge to spy on them in the yard and there they were, happily building a shelter with timber and sticks and leaves and the most important thing that lives in our backyard; their imaginations. And I realised, I can remind them countless times a day to use their manners, I can tell them off for fighting or being mean to each other or their friends, or being rough. I can talk about kindness and show them what it means to look out for those who need it most. I can not run to every sound of tears and wait for them to solve it themselves instead. I can read books and tell stories and spell words out for their own books and stories. I can cook and eat and offer healthy food to make our bodies feel good and we can name our feelings to make our heads and hearts make sense.

But maybe the most important thing they need is going to work best when I don’t interfere at all. It is only then that their imaginations will grow and blossom and fill up their world. And with this imagination they can solve their problems, overcome their insecurities, make sense of their friends and themselves. But all of this is a long way away, for now those brilliant imaginations can sparkle with joy and possibility. Sure they need manners and resilience and kindness and to know when to be gentle. But with their imagination they can fill in the gaps when the world doesn’t make sense. They can wish their mean mother who keeps nagging gets eaten by a dragon and then spat out as a funny little frog. They can pretend their annoying little brother is the keeper of the snail house who must guard it from the giant snail squashing bug. And they can imagine a future where they can be and do whatever comes into their strange little minds.

And in the meantime, those sticks and that backyard has a whole world full of possibilities. And just in case they need it, their mum isn’t too far away.

photo boys








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