I’m a pretty stubborn person, so if you want to see me break out into hives and get huffy really fast, just tell me with no finesse that I’m doing something the wrong way. Much like Randy from A Christmas Story, if you want to get me to eat meatloaf, you have to crawl inside my brain and tell me that that it’ll taste good if I pretend to be a little piggy while I dig into it. I have to be tricked into doing things that are good for me. I am my own worst enemy.
Ever since I had Wee Cee, though, I have caught her on numerous occasions tricking me into being an all-around better person and eating the proverbial meatloaf of life (It IS proverbial, dangit!). She makes me be a better person just by virtue of the fact that she’s so unsullied herself and her guile is completely uncultivated. She, and kids in general, trick us into being better people every day, and we can’t help but thank them for it.
1. They make us eat healthier.
B and I were reminiscing on our pre-Cee days recently, and we recalled how when we first moved to Korea, we ate fried chicken at least a couple times a week. Just a bucket of chicken with nothing else constituted a daily meal. We didn’t even pretend to be healthy by ordering coleslaw. Once the kid arrived, though, nary a KFC wing or a drumstick has passed the barrier of my teeth. It turns out, when you have kids, you actually want them to eat kinda nutritious things. (I know!) And since no one wants to make double meals, we all started eating all the same, more healthy stuff. Damn it if my kid didn’t make me add broccoli to my regular diet. She loves that stuff. I can’t explain it, but I know better than to question it.
2. They make us play with toys.
Before Cee was born, the last time I played pretend was probably when I was dating and trying to convince myself that my inclination to read Beowulf and eat soup on the weekends made me a hot commodity. Once I actually found a man who humored me, I largely turned off that side of my brain that plays and pretends. But since Cee has come into my life, she has insisted I accompany her on the play mat. She is a child who thrives on interaction and would rather play with me than play independently, and that has been a blessing for me. Playtime ushers me into a make-believe world where anything goes and I don’t feel self-conscious. She can keep her singing kitchen, but I will stack blocks with her all day long.
3. They make us exercise.
You know how I feel about the gym. Unless I can get a good blog post out of it, it’s dead to me. So physical fitness is not exactly high on my priority list. But kids? They don’t stop. Once they learn to walk, they move onto running. Once running is old news, they think they may as well climb. And once they’ve climbed to the top of the sofa, why not just jump off too? Kids are a lot to keep up with, and despite my couch potato tendencies, Wee Cee keeps me running. Even though she wasn’t born yet when we moved into our apartment, I sometimes believe that she telepathically ordained that we live on the third floor just so I could build up my biceps by schlepping her up the stairs at least twice a day. She’s a good workout.
4. They make us take better care of ourselves.
There’s a lot of truth to the adage, “If mama’s not happy, then no one is happy.” Not until my daughter was born did I realize that my everyday demeanor and health actually impacts the people around me. Kids take cues from their parents, and since I am around Cee pretty much 1000% of the time, it is important for me to go to the doctor or deal with my demons I’m not operating at least at 70%. She knows it when I’m not doing well; she’s crankier and needier because the environment I set the tone for is not secure. When our kids see us taking time to care for ourselves, they learn how to take care of themselves as well.
5. They make us appreciate our own parents.
Probably the biggest irony in the history of parenthood is that your own able-bodied parents will work tooth and nail to get a thank-you from you for all the sacrifices they made for you, but they will never receive it until your own mini-me is walking around on the Earth. It is going to take a tiny 25-pound person who would rather destroy your sofa than give you a kiss to make you realize how awesome your own parents were for putting up with you. That’s authority. There is virtue in respecting and loving our parents because of what we put them through, and often when my own child is going through the garbage can for the trillionth time after being told to stop, I adore my mom and dad for going through it twice and loving me in spite of it. The love our parents have for us becomes even more profound when we marvel that they never killed us.
What’s something that kids do that inspires you to be a better person?