A few years ago, my husband and I were for our daughter’s end of year ballet performance to start, and I leaned over to him and said, ‘did you ever imagine yourself at the ballet?
‘No. It’s a little weird really. It’s also weird how much I enjoy it.’
I can’t remember exactly what the reasoning was when we put our eldest daughter into ballet lessons at the ripe old age of four. I think we just thought she would like it. Turns out we were right, and that very first performance we were amazed at how she held herself on stage, and the way all the other five-year-olds looked to her. It was pretty special.
Fast forward seven years, and she’s less into ballet and more in hip hop, but her love of dance grows more all the time. Give her a playlist and some free time, and she is as happy as a pig in a tutu. (Because the saying pig in mud is so overdone, and I think we should change it.)
It’s pretty awesome watching your kids work out what they love, and it’s even better helping them discover it. I think it’s one of our most important charges in parenting; looking at who that little person could be, and helping them get there, but being prepared to be surprised along the way.
It also got me thinking how, as important it is for me to know who my tiny people are, it’s also important for them to know who I am – I mean outside of being the person who insists that their clothes are put away and they brush their teeth every day. What makes me happy, and what do I enjoy doing?
Now if you hadn’t guessed, I really quite enjoy writing. I’ve written about it once or twice.
Considering that I spend so much time telling them about the stories I have written or been thinking about (‘Mum! You can’t write stories about ghosts!), I thought I was doing pretty good in this regard; even now they are all able to see me tip-tapping away on my computer, so my interests outside of trying to get all the washing folded, should be pretty self-evident. Not to mention all the times I’ve included them in my writing. Last year I had Bridie draw pictures for the Not Quite Princess story, and this year I gave a talk in her class about being a writer, and there’s also that book I wrote.
Of course, kids are kids, and sometimes the most obvious thing to us as adults is less obvious to them (unless it appears on Minecraft), and so I set about creating a survey to check how well they actually know me.
It was… interesting.
What’s your name?
They all said, Jess. Excellent. They know exactly who I am. Winning right there.
What am I good at?
BJ: Being nice. Well, that’s a relief.
Bridie: Cooking for the fussiest child, that is a huge compliment.
Taylah: Writing. Score.
What do I like doing?
Ava: Not doing jobs. She knows me well.
BJ: Resting and playing Candy Crush. Yes. For fifteen minutes in the evening before I move from one set of jobs to the next.
Bridie: Being my mum. Well, that’s pretty much a given.
Taylah: Writing. And again she wins the prize. (There is no actual prize.)
What do you think I should be doing?
Ava: Working. As opposed to all that sitting around playing Candy Crush that I apparently do.
BJ: Having a rest.
Bridie: Doing whatever you want.
Taylah: More writing. I concur.
What should I be when I grow up?
Stunned looks followed by ‘but you are grown up!’
‘Well let’s pretend I’m not.’
Ava: mmmm…..ahhhh…..a…. doctor! All that Greys Anatomy viewing is paying off.
BJ: A nice, helping mummy.
Bridie: An author. And we have another winner!
Taylah: a world-famous author. Because she has to go one better.
Ok, so it turns out my kids, don’t know me as well as I thought they did, but that’s not too bad. It just means we all get to learn more about each other as we grow and let’s face it, we’ve all got a lot of growing to do. Besides if they see me as a helpful lady who can cook well, rock Candy Crush and has learned to enjoy the ballet (and all the other sporting events they’ve tried), then that’s probably not the worst thing in the world.
How well do your kids know you?