One of my fondest childhood memories is of going with my mom to our local grocery and chatting with my favorite cashier. I still remember her friendly smile and awesome nails. Seriously, that lady had style. She made what was probably a very mundane task, at least for my mother, into an exciting adventure.
Now that I am grown with a child of my own, I am reminded of those memories and just how much joy there can be in the simplest of things. For my son, that could mean anything from helping me pick produce at the farmers’ market to carrying the basket at the supermarket.
In my heart I know that my son is just as excited by running errands with me as he is by participating in any number of child-centric activities available to him. However, the pressure to keep my son mentally, emotionally and socially stimulated can be overwhelming, especially in today’s hyper – competitive parenting world. I wonder if I’m doing my son a disservice by not taking him to music class or soccer practice.
In those moments of doubt, when I am questioning whether I am doing enough, I think of “Seinfeld.” Yes, “Seinfeld.” The creators of “Seinfeld” knew that you don’t need elaborate plots to capture the human condition. The characters revealed more of themselves — their quirks, their vulnerabilities — in a half hour spent waiting for a restaurant table, than they ever could engaged in some complex adventure. Similarly, I find I learn more about my son on a rainy day doing laundry than I could by schlepping him from one activity to the next.
My son’s life must seem very boring. And, you know what? It is. I readily admit that a “busy” day for my son can mean spending a couple of hours at the playground, maybe running some errands and playing in our apartment. Some may consider that lazy, and they may be right. But for those parents who question whether they are doing enough, I say, ask yourselves what you enjoyed most about your childhood. Chances are it was something as simple as making up games with your friends or helping your mom bake cookies.
I think it is wonderful that our children have so much at their disposal. And, as the colder weather approaches, I just might need to register my son for something, just to keep my sanity. But, if I find myself getting caught up on today’s complex world, I will try to capture the unbridled enthusiasm my son has for the simplest of things.