Friday, June 15, 2012


Parenting is dichotomous. For while parenting fills your heart and home with love and laughter and a level of fulfillment (I think is) otherwise unachievable in the world, it’s also – frankly, if I can be honest here – one huge, time-sucking, mundane, repetitive, soul-stealing total pain the in ass. (And forgive my being so blunt there, but I feel that it's true. And I'm a guy that loves being a parent!)

The trials and tribulations of parenting are obvious (and legion throughout this blog), but I absolutely must focus here on one of the more amazing positives here, something I call 'wondertime'.

After 42 years on this planet, some things tend to get a little mundane and you, quite naturally, take them for granted (if you even notice them at all any more). But when your toddler or preschooler starts to experience them for the first time and really starts to actually GRASP their concepts, these same things become huge, even monumental. There are just so many little things that we have forgotten about, that we just accept, but these supposedly now mundane things can fill our children with absolute wonder. And their palpable awe of these things can bring you right back to a time when you too found these little parts of life every bit as wondrous.
Sylvia, learning about gecko eyes
at the Boston Museum of Science

So, here, for you, is a very short list of a few wonder-filled things my girls have reintroduced me to:

MAIL! – Mail is an amazing thing. It is proof that your nation has achieved a certain amount of safety, security, and wealth to be able to provide this service (not all countries have mail, you know). But it’s also magic. A person, in uniform, comes to your house – almost EVERY DAY – to bring you things and leave them in a special box. Sometimes those things even have your name on them – they are for you! Sometimes those things come, somehow, from grandma. Sometimes those things have money in them for your birthday! Sometimes those things are kids magazines, just for you, or even toy catalogs (what we call ‘kids menus’ after a three-year-old Lillian dubbed one Toys-R-Us catalog by that name)! Like the guy in Blue’s Clues will tell you, mail is worth wailing about.

GARBAGE TRUCKS! – Oh my, but the garbage truck is a wonderful thing. Like mail, it’s a reminder that you live in a safe, wealthy country (many countries don’t have garbage pick up, either). But, unlike mail, it’s a special event that only happens once a week! Guys in special suits come, sometimes first thing in the morning, with a very special truck that is only for garbage and it has flashing yellow lights on it, and they take your garbage away! You never see it again – it’s GONE! When Lillian was four and Sylvia two, I’d yell out, ‘Trash Truck!’ on Friday mornings, and we’d all run to the couch by the window that faced where the trash guys took our garbage, just to watch and wave. Amazing stuff.

WINDSHIELD WIPERS! – Our cars have little arms on them that we can control. They clear off the windows when it’s rainy out. Better still, those windows have SPRAYERS that spray the windows to clean them off. That is just way too cool. It’s so cool, that sometimes you just have to ask your dad or mom to just turn them on, just to see them again and be sure that, yep, those little wiping arms are still there.

MONEY! – Money is amazing. You have it, then you can hand it to people for stuff. You just hand them pieces of paper or little metal disks and you get back candy, toys, rides, all sorts of stuff! It’s especially fun when your three-year old begins to recognize money, like Sylvia a few years ago stepping out of our car in a mall parking lot. She saw a penny on the ground; “Daddy! Money! Money, daddy – look!” She picked it up and held it aloft for the entire world to see. Money is power. Sylvia knew this, she heard about it from us, her parents, because when you have money you can do things and when you don’t, you can’t and suddenly Sylvia had her own little bit of power, right there in the palm of her hand. “I have money daddy, money!” It was a penny, but she’s getting the concept at least…

Lillian, in PJ's, with early morning lady bug
POCKETS! – When was the last time you really appreciated pockets? I mean pockets are pretty wonderful. Not all of kids’ clothes even have pockets, so when they do have pockets, they can carry… STUFF! Sylvia’s parking lot penny went into… you guessed it, her pocket! Pockets can carry little dolls, or piles of rocks, or seashells, or candies, or stuff you want to use later. Without pockets, it’s much harder to carry these things. So pockets are cool! They are worth telling the world about, “Look daddy, I have pockets on this dress! And I’m going to put X, Y, and Z in my pockets!”** 

These are just a very few things that my girls have reintroduced to me as being quite amazing. Their wonder constantly wakes memories within me of doing some of those exact same things, allowing me to see the joy in all these forgotten things and to, for a moment, feel that childlike amazement again. And these are just a few. There are dozens, maybe hundreds more: the light in the refrigerator, rubber bands, bubble wrap, camping, remote controls, light switches, bridges, tape, Pop Rocks, spit balls, sprinklers – the list really does go on and on and on. (Oh, and don’t even get me started on holidays, especially the grand daddy of all wonder-moments, Christmas. That’s a WHOLE other league of ‘wonder’ going on there.)

But, when it comes to these modest little things, I’m so thankful to my girls for reintroducing me the true wonder and amazement of these inventions that I have taken for granted for so long, and for allowing me – for a moment or two – to be, again, that wide-eyed amazed little kid too.

*With apologies to the excellent parenting magazine of that same name that existed, all too briefly, prior to the economic downturn. It was the one parenting magazine that was actually positive, proactive, and chock full of great recipes, ideas for games and toys for kids of a variety of ages, and offered realistic, sound parenting advice, rather than the usual fear-mongering parenting magazines out there that are constantly emblazoned with terror-filling headlines like “25 Things in Your Home that will KILL your Toddler – RIGHT NOW!” It was such a good magazine that we would buy subscriptions as baby shower gifts for people. If you are a parent, the back issues are worth seeking out.
RIP WonderTime. We miss you…

** Side note, once when I was a kid of about seven or so, I found some cool worms and I thought it would be super awesome to put them – and there were a LOT of them – into my pocket to take home. Well, I first played out in the sun for several hours. When I got home, I was excited to get my worms back out and build a little home for them. Well, let’s just say that that particular pocket wasn’t quite so wonderful…

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