Okay, I put some thought into it and tried to do that more-creative list of how to show kindness, appreciation, and have a sweeter relationship with your child. As I said in the last post, I have read a number of these kinds of lists lately on other blogs and was underwhelmed by the suggestions.
Well, it turns out, it’s actually really hard to put together a list like this without sounding sappy, insane, or random. I just had to think about things I do and want to do for my kid and hope it translates to others. So, for what it’s worth, here is the result:
1. Let them be naked.
2. Give them permission to tear out all the pages in a magazine.
3. Tell them they are the winner of a special “Most Beloved Toddler” award and give them some beads, a medal, or a tiara.
4. Give them a whole sheet of stickers to go crazy with.
5. Once in awhile, ditch your errand and let them drag you around a shopping center.
6. Buy fun straws.
7. Put on a serious puppet show over their crib railing.
8. Count things, describe things, explain things, even if it seems obvious.
9. Task them with throwing (throw-appropriate) purchases into your cart in the grocery store.
10. Paint with them frequently.
11. Tell them about your day, even if they were present for it.
12. Give them their own space, a No “No” Zone.
13. Put weird things on your head and see how long it takes until they notice.
14. Give them a back-rub or foot-rub with lotion, if they like that sort of thing.
15. Let them “help” in the kitchen.
16. Talk about their favorite animal and look at pictures of them online.
17. Make up stories about their toys.
18. Don’t just hug them and tell them you love them often: hug them, tell them you love them, AND tell them you love what they’ve done with their hair.
19. Succumb to the allure of the occasional sugary snack together.
20. Slow dance, with more feeling, to ridiculous 80′s rock ballads.
21. Save them cool things to play with, like paper towel roll tubes and boxes.
22. Pay close attention to things like what size pieces they like their foot, how warm or cold they like to be while sleeping, what volume they prefer your voice to be while reading.
23. Get rid of clothes that are too tight, uncomfortable, itchy, or too complicated.
24. Give them lots of new foods to try.
25. Let them unfold the contents of your dresser.
26. Make your kid something completely unique and fantastical to play with.
27. Smell all the spices in the spice rack together.
28. Accept that you are helpless against the inevitable and give them their own cell phone (it can be on old one that’s inactive, or a toy phone).
29. Praise them for their unparalleled abilities to make a creative mess.
30. Feed birds, squirrels, etc. in the park together.
31. Pop into pet shops or markets just so they can look at the fish in their aquariums.
32. Let them choose their new clothes at the store once in awhile, they may surprise you.
33. Take pictures of them sleeping. (My sister assures me this is not creepy, it’s loving!)
34. Keep track of measurements, health, milestones, sure… but also mark your child’s changes in sense of humor, favorite flavors, attitude towards babies, the sound of their cry, the way they show affection.
35. Wrap them up in warm laundry fresh from the dryer as you fold.
36. Wait for them to put their shoes on and breathe deeply.
37. Open an email account just for them and let their adoring family and fans send them messages. It’s like a virtual letterbox for them when they’re older.
38. Be unapologetic to other adults about protecting your child from things that harm them.
39. Read books together, read on the floor, read on the bus, read in the car, read even when you are totally tired of reading, then ask them to read to you.
40. Donate to a special charity in their name. Tell them why.
41. When they are sick, let them get away with stuff you otherwise would not.
42. Let them help you at the ATM.
43. Educate yourself on childhood development.
44. Take your playtime seriously and your serious-time playfully.
45. Let them splash you in the bathtub. You’ll dry.
46. Take a day, now and then, to devote wholly to things that your kid loves to do.
47. Make conversation, listen to them even if it’s just babble.
48. Thank your child when they help, when they try, and most of all for just being.
49. In all ways, seek out the person they truly are, not who you want them to be.
50. And don’t be stingy with the sunscreen.