Ruby went for her first hike on Monday. It was actually more of a walk in the woods than a hike (rambling with her Papa, Nana and Grandpapa around Tiger Mountain) but we’re going to count it anyway. She enjoyed her time in the backpack carrier, didn’t enjoy wearing her several-sizes-too-big sunhat, and we all had fun.
I’ve come to appreciate what a long, slow process parenting is. You can’t just put on your super-parent hat one day, take your kid for a hike, and then claim that you’ve instilled a love for the outdoors. If you want her to love to hike, you need to be a hiker. She needs to experience the woods as she grows up, and not just as a special occasion.
The same idea applies to just about everything else. You don’t teach manners, or piano, or quantum mechanics, or how to bend a soccer ball, in just one day. You teach them over a lifetime. Every tiny little moment is miniscule, discardable, delayable, half-assable, but all those tiny little moments add up to something colossal, huge, bigger than anything else in your life. So to be the best parent in the world, you need to bring your “A” game every single day.
Your child doesn’t take days off being a child, and so you don’t get to take days off being a parent. You may be fatigued, or bored, or really just wanting to read a few more emails, but you need instead to brew up some of that wonderful creativity you’ve always prided yourself on, and you need to do that every single day. You need to be like a dial-tone of creative energy, always there humming when your kid picks up the receiver. That is, if you want to be the best parent in the world.