My four-year-old hates to lose, whether he’s playing basketball, a board game or a computer game. That doesn’t mean that when he insists on climbing up a chute I don’t patiently explain to him that he can only climb up ladders. Little kids might throw the occasional fit if they don’t get their way, but the only way to stop those tantrums is if they realize they can’t change the rules of the game. Learning how to strike out is just as crucial as learning how to succeed.
Once in a while you’re going to have to give something up for someone else on your team. Sometimes you may have to share your toys, finish chores before going out to play, or miss out on something because of the family’s busy schedules. The good news is that the team you sacrificed for will also be there for you if you need something.
The thing I love most about baseball is that unlike so many other sports, a team can be down by a lot but they always have a chance to win, even in the last inning. A day in the life of a parent is long and there are countless ways to screw up (both for the child and the grownup). But you can always end the day with a good bedtime story, and as long as your kid goes to bed happy and in one piece, consider it a home run.
The one thing you can plan for as a parent is that you can never count on anything going as planned. Excited for that vacation you have coming up? Someone is probably going to get sick. Planning to make a phone call during your child’s naptime? They will only want to nap for twenty minutes that day. I find the hardest thing about being a mother is the uncertainty of knowing from minute to minute what problem you will have to solve. Once I relinquished the idea that everything would go as planned, parenting all of a sudden got a lot easier.
Kids have a funny little habit of making everything about themselves, but sometimes you need to step away from whatever you’re doing and give yourself a break, even if it’s for five minutes. Modern parents pride themselves on getting down on the floor and playing with their kids, on keeping them away from the television and computer, for making all of their organic meals from scratch. These accomplishments are all definitely things to be proud of, but once in a blue moon it’s ok to turn on Disney Jr., hand your kid a lollipop (organic, of course), and take ten minutes for yourself. As long as you’re not singing Cotton-Eye Joe, this time out will be worth it.
Or at least some Cracker Jacks…
…but stay away from the juice.