McDonald’s celebrated Children’s Day* yesterday with an interesting giveaway of a card that says “Make a pledge to share #TheHappiestMeal with your child.” The sub-text adds that parents should give our child the “gift of a lifetime – openness and trust sealed with a pinky promise. Pinky to pinky. Heart to heart.”
On the flip side of the card, parents are to sign and adopt the pinky promise to talk to our children about their “feelings, to learn more about each other and to always be open and listen supportively”.
Along with the card, there were five questions that served to get the conversation going. They were:
- Who is your best friend?
- What is the best thing about school?
- Where is your favourite place?
- If you could have one superpower what would it be?
- What do you want to be when you grow up?
As we engaged with our kids over these questions, in between munching on their McDonald’s Happy Meals (our lunch treat for them), I got to thinking about what my answers to those questions would be if they were posed to me with regards to my kids.
At this point in my life journey as a parent, if I were to say that best friends are defined by the amount of time spent together, then my best friends right now would have to be both my boys. Staying home full-time since the end of May this year has certainly ensured that. In fact, I would venture to say that I’m probably not yet fully aware of just how significant this ‘quantity time’ spent together really means for me. Not until I experience (gulp) the empty nest syndrome that’ll surely come some day!
As for the best thing about school? Well it’s just being able to get the boys up in the mornings so far without ever experiencing any reluctance to go to school. I’m confident that most parents will agree with me that this is certainly a victory in itself!
What is my favourite place? That would typically be wherever my kids are. Seriously. Yes of course I often need my alone time, and I can often be driven mad by my kids on those bad parenting days. On such days, I would literally wish I could climb up the wall and make a break for the hills aka Maria of The Sound of Music fame. But I’ve come to recognise that even in those moments, I pine for time with them! I know. I probably need therapy. But there. I’ve said it. And kids, daddy means every word!
A superpower eh? Well, let’s see. I’ve always wanted to fly, but truth is, I once tried one of those VR machines that lets you ‘experience’ what flight is (I recall the landscape was New York). I didn’t last long!
Super strength? Maybe, although being a main caregiver of my kids now already requires a lot of ‘heavy lifting’ from me so I dare say I’m pretty good in this department thank you very much.
I guess what I really want would be the ability to read minds aka Professor Charles Xavier of the X-Men comic franchise. Then I can hear the thoughts and feelings of my boys and know just what they need when they need it. Wouldn’t that make me THE most awesome dad in the world?!
And now to the last question. When I grow up, I hope that I’ll be a better parent than I am now. That I will be THE role model my boys would emulate when their turn comes to becoming dads. I don’t think parenting is something that one ever really masters. Since every child is unique, it stands to reason that the way to parent each child will differ right? And the accompanying stress…well that goes without saying!
So I need to constantly grow into that role, which will require me to pad myself for a lot of falls, half of which will likely be flat on my face! For humiliation is probably as good a teacher as any. Like when you forget to apply sunblock and your kids return home to their mom from a day out (in the hot tropical sun we regularly have here) looking like the next catchment of lobsters for the wet market! Or when you forget to put his overnight diaper on, and….well you know what I mean.
You know what? Come to think of it, let’s scrap that. When I grow up, I hope I can be a kid again! Yeah, let my boys be the ones to look after me instead. Have them buy me a Happy Meal and a Happy toy. Take me to the cinemas and do all the stuff I do for them so far in their lives (and doubtless more ahead!)…let them pamper me with lots of care, attention and love. Yeah, that would be super duper cool now wouldn’t it?
Yep, a Happy Children’s Day to all the kiddies out there like my boys…and me!
* Children’s Day is recognized in Singapore annually on every first Friday of October.