The One Thing All Kids Want

Image courtesy of flickr

Image courtesy of flickr

Hubby and I have probably visited every venue there is for kiddie birthday parties. And let me tell you something – things have changed since we were young’uns. In the olden days, birthdays were usually celebrated at home or at a certain mouse’s abode (think “where a kid can be a kid”) because those were the only locations available. Nowadays, kids have a bazillion more places to choose from, depending on whether they want to run around on indoor inflatable jumpy houses, bounce on wall-to-wall trampolines or climb up walls.

Our munchkins have been fortunate enough to attend many parties at all of the above mentioned (and more) venues, which means hubby and I have joined in on the fun, too. When I say joined, I mean we literally have climbed, slid, jumped, ran and crawled along with E and C, as well as dozens of other little people. Although I would much rather sit on the sidelines and enjoy the excitement from afar, (our kids won’t participate unless we do, too), I must confess I do enjoy getting in on the action. I get to relive my childhood, loosen up my creaky joints and bond with E and C in the process. Another upside is that since hubby and I are typically the only adults working up a sweat at these parties, we’ve had many opportunities to interact with other kids. These interactions have included the times when…

A curly-haired preschooler insisted on climbing onto hubby’s lap so she could go down the inflatable slide with him.

A brown-haired girl in a pink top waved to me repeatedly to watch her do flips on the trampoline.

A boy about E’s height who had been watching hubby and the kids play tag asked if he could play, too.

These random encounters with these random kids used to throw me off. The first few times they happened, I was tempted to ask the kids, “Where are your parents? Don’t you know you’re not supposed to talk to random strangers?!” Now though I just make eye contact and smile politely (while hubby is a lot more friendly and lets random kids sit on his lap and/or chase him).

Why have I stopped being surprised when random kids approach us? I think it’s because I finally understand what they’re after, and what they’re after is perfectly normal, acceptable and to be expected.

What is the one thing all kids want?

Our attention.

Simply put, they want to be seen. To be heard. To be noticed. Kids want to be talked to. To be helped. To be interacted with.

Kids want to know they matter.

And in this crazy money-making, gadget-consuming, faster-than-the-speed-of-light culture in which we live today, it’s more important than ever that kids get the attention they need (ideally from the significant adults in their lives, not necessarily from random strangers like me). 😛

So, I’m thankful for a hubby who isn’t afraid to pull a muscle (true story!) in order to play with our kids. I’m also grateful he encourages me to participate as well. Because instead of plopping down on the sidelines and updating my status about what my kids are doing at the moment (or catching up on what everyone else’s kids are doing), I’m actually experiencing it all with them. I’m realizing how much my kids value my presence and my attention. I’m reminded of how the things I say and do will leave a lasting impression on them. And I’m more inclined to kick off my shoes and crawl, jump, climb, slide and run around with my munchkins so they will know they matter. Because that’s something my kids (and all kids) need to know.

All I need to know is that being the sweatiest parent in the room might also make me the coolest parent ever – at least in my kids’ eyes. What could be more worthwhile than that? 😉

The song for today’s post is Lenka’s “The Show”. The childlike quality of the song and some of the lyrics remind me of what it’s like to be a kid.

Who were some significant adults from your childhood who made positive lasting impressions on your life?

P.S. Speaking of paying attention to the kids in our lives (whether personally or professionally), I am hopeful that the business venture I am starting on Monday, November 17 will help us do just that. Stay tuned for the reveal of my plush toys called the Moodkins! You’ll also have the opportunity to win a free set of them next week!

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