Parenting is hard—or so everyone says. Sam Davies is here to remind us that it’s also really, really easy.
Photo by: jjesskalee
Parenting is really hard work. Get any group of parents together talking about their kids, and it quickly descends into horror stories about irrational tiny humans, lack of sleep, and poop. In this column I often talk about how I’m struggling as a father, how my daughters can exhaust my patience, or how I have absolutely no clue what I’m doing. All of that is still true, but today I’d like to remind myself that I like my kids and spending time with them is the best.
Reading to them
For much of their early childhoods, reading to my daughters consisted of holding a picture book open while they attempted to tear and/or eat the book. But now, I get to read them chapter books and it’s my absolute favorite.
I’m reading Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets to my six year old. She’ll get home from school, find a snack, then snuggle up with me as I read to her about Hermione, Harry, and Ron. She laughs out loud at Peeves and doesn’t mind that my Hagrid voice most closely resembles a drunken American trying his best to fit in in Glasgow.
My nine-year-old and I are reading The Lord of the Rings. She works on a puzzle or draws in her sketchbook while I not only read aloud Tolkien’s prose, but also poems in Dwarvish or figure out how to sing songs in Sindarin. These books really do benefit from being read aloud and I’m really enjoying taking my time to enjoy every word. We’ve also gotten a few books of Tolkien-inspired art from the library that she likes to look through as we read. She’s even excited to have me read The Silmarillion to her next, but we’ll see how that goes.
Camping with them
Twice a year, a group of Northside dads and their daughters go car camping somewhere within a 90 minute radius of Richmond. Sometimes we go to a campground at Lake Anna, sometimes to the river, but it’s always a fun, relatively relaxing time. I get to walk with them, go canoeing with them, keep them from falling into the fire, all the great camping experiences. My favorite is when we’re all tired from a full day, lying in our tent together, cozy in our sleeping bags, and chatting until we fall asleep.
Listening to Hamilton
Every day as we are about to pull away from the curb to drive to school, I ask my daughters what music they’d like to listen to. And, every day the answer is Hamilton. Not only is the music great, but my kids are now into the history of it all. My nine-year-old devours Revolutionary War books from the library. My six-year-old squeals with joy every time we go on a street named after a Founder she recognizes. If we start from the beginning track and traffic is modest, we’ll get to school sometime during “The Schuyler Sisters,” which is their favorite because women are primarily singing it.
In the evenings, we also dance around the kitchen to Lafayette 6.3 words per second rap in “Guns and Ships.”
Getting beaten in games
My girls are old enough that we can play games that are actually fun, not pre-determined Calvinist exercises like Chutes and Ladders or Candyland. And most of these fun games, the girls can soundly defeat me with enough frequency that everyone feels like they have a shot. Whether it’s my nine-year-old holding back her Draw Four Wilds in Uno, my six-year-old sinking my Patrol Boat in Battleship, or both of them conspiring to explode me in Exploding Kittens, it’s fun to play knowing that we’re evenly matched.
Can I just say that nothing tops your kid seeing that you might be feeling sad and then coming over to give you a hug? It’s. The. Best.
This list is by no means exhaustive, but even in writing it I’m reminded just how much I like these two people that I’m partially responsible for. Hopefully I’ll remember these things the next time I’m feeling angry and will find a way to let that anger pass.