There is a fine art to parenting during big transitions. You can no longer rely on personal space, routine or schedules. As we have been living in limbo for the past two weeks, I can attest we are getting really creative with our child rearing. With even more transition on the horizon, I am grateful for really gullible kids. That sounds harsh, but no judgement. I realize that I learned some of my "illusionist" parenting skills from a very important person in my life. My sister.
When I was little, I had a hard time staying in my own bed. So much so, that they would find me in the wee hours of the morning eating ranch dip and Lays potato chips while watching "Land Before Time". I was an old soul. I also liked chips. To combat some of my bedtime fears I would crawl in bed with my Sissy. (In case you are wondering, yes, I am 35. Yes, I still call her Sissy.) My Sissy, she is no dummy. As we would lay there she would say, "Baileigh, I want you to practice your alphabet, you draw your letters on my back and I will try to guess what letter you are drawing." So I would begin to trace. Then she would say, "No, no, make really BIG letters." She would guess my letters for a time, but I think she quickly found that this meant she had to respond to me and that was too much work. So then she would say, "draw a pretty picture with lots of details." So I would draw houses with trees and bushes and clouds and planes flying over with a puppy in the front yard and a big sun that made a rainbow. (You get the literal picture.) After twenty minutes and some thought provoking detail to my masterpiece I would call out, "Sissy, what was my picture?!!" Then I would hear her gently snoring. She was a jedi-kid-illusionist master. I always thought she cared about my education, when in reality, she wanted a back rub.
Now, I am a parent. I am a desperate parent in the middle of a tireless relocation. Don't feel bad for me, I have a jedi-kid-illusionist master for a husband. After moving twenty-five pieces of luggage from our house to our first beach cottage he decides to get creative when moving to our second beach cottage across the parking lot. To give more context, we were on a tight timeline. We had to do our final house walk through at 10:00 am, then be out of our place by 11:00 am. Not only did we have ALL of our luggage we will be living out of for the next few months, we had beach toys, food & essential alcohol. This was a feat. So Zac, being ever ready to pull one over on his family made the whole thing a competition. Turning what was a loving family at breakfast time, into a no holds barred posse by lunch time. It was genius. Like any good southern gent, he makes it a contest. Like any good southern belle, I leave my kids in the dust to win the ultimate prize. What that prize is, I have no idea.
So here is my hope. I look back on all those nights, in the soft light of my sister's bay window, drawing fine works of art on her back, as some of the best moments in my childhood. I can remember every detail some thirty years later. She made me feel safe and loved. I envision, years from now, my kids looking back on the day we careened through a parking lot atop our suit cases, as one of the best days of their childhood. I cannot wait to show Asher his incredible breakdown when met with the daunting task of pushing an object 4 times his own body weight. They may think, "wow, our parents were really fun" or they may say, to their counselor, "man, my parents were nuts." It's all a toss up at this point.
To all you parents out there, may the force be with you.