One of the great aspects of parenting is being able to rediscover the wonders of the world through your children’s eyes. To be able to watch them as they see a monkey in person for the first time, or to feel the touch of snow on their faces, is truly wondrous. I remember when my son first felt flakes of snow starting to fall on his face. He looked up in amazement and licked the snow with his tongue. It was a thrilling feeling for me as well, as I suddenly rediscovered the magical quality of snow.
So, you’re all grown up now. Snow doesn’t thrill you like it did when you were a kid. Sliding down a slide doesn’t make you squeal with delight and being on a swing doesn’t make you scream,“Higher! Higher!”
Get over your blasé attitude and be a kid again with your kids! Slide down the slide with them, play ball with them, swing next to them, and make castles in the sand at the park or at the beach. They’ll love it and you may find that you love playing again, too.
My husband, Avi, always got down on the floor to play board games with our son. I know he enjoyed it just as much as our son, David, did. When David was older, we all played Scrabble together and David even beat us once in a while. It was a great way to increase his vocabulary as we spent many cold winter nights in our cozy house enjoying this challenging game. We played other games as well, including Monopoly, and enjoyed the intense competition.
Every year we would go to Great America in Gurnee, Illinois, and Avi would go on every ride with David. (As the chicken rider I would only go on the kiddie rides with him.) These were great family outings and we all had fun. When he was very little, we even went on the toddler rides with our son. Those were the ones I enjoyed the most.
At the age of ten, I felt that David should be able to enjoy Wisconsin’s frigid winters with a winter sport, so I took him skiing and we did this every winter until he got married. We went ice skating and roller skating together, and biking and hiking. Avi was the game person and I was the sports person, so each of us did our specialty in playing with our son.
David and I subsequently skied all over Wisconsin. At one point he surpassed me when he started to snowboard. I tried to snowboard as well, but never got the hang of it. However, David and I were still on the same slopes and took the lifts together.
David and I traveled everywhere together from the time he was four months old, when I took him to Israel. We explored the Mayan pyramids, Europe, Iceland, Israel, and parts of the U.S.
We even went camping together as a family and the three of us crowded into a two-man tent. I had neglected to get anything soft to sleep on, so when David got up in the morning he said, “What a ridiculous way to sleep!” He was all of ten at the time. Camping never became our thing, but we did many other activities together, including museums, the zoo, long walks, and — of course — our Saturday night board games.
Avi always read to David before he went to sleep, from an early age on. Danny and the Dinosaur was a favorite and by the age of two David could pick out the word “dinosaur.” Avi even read him a book written in Latin about two teenage Roman boys.
David loved music and so Avi shared his record collection with him. David went to bed to the strains of “Peter and the Wolf” night after night.
Avi and David also shared a love for Disney movies and every Sunday they took the bus to see Disney movies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Union Theater. They laughed together at the characters’ antics like two little boys, the eight year old and the 34 year old.
Our zoo trips were our best kids’ trips. The three of us loved the zoo, watching the monkeys’ antics, being scared by the gorillas’ glarings, and admiring the graceful flamingos. Avi and I were kids again at the zoo, just like our son.
I taught my son to ride a two-wheeler bicycle so that we could ride together. Avi didn’t bike, however he did go paddle boating with David and they also went rowing together.
We had a ball with our son, enjoying our second childhoods with him, and we loved every minute of it.
Play with your kids, be a kid with them — and you’ll have a ball as well. You’ll be able to forget your adult problems for the time you are playing with them and you’ll rediscover how it feels to be young again as you bond with your children. They’ll laugh with delight when mommy and daddy slide down the slide at the playground or at the water park and it’ll tickle their little fancies.