On Saturday mornings, the family snuggles together in our bed. Liam is tucked into my arms. The hubby tickles Annabelle and she laughs, pushing his hands away saying, “Honey!” (This sounds strange. My daughter mimics everything I do at 22 months. I call my husband ‘Honey’ and not ‘Daddy’ because I think its kind of weird to call your husband Daddy and now she calls him Honey and I am wondering if I should start calling him Daddy?) Anyhoo, last weekend, Honey asked Annabelle to say the word “family”, we’re a family he told her. Her response was a sheepish “amly”. Later that day, after I put the kids down for a nap and headed groggily towards the bedroom for my own nap, it dawned on me how significant that morning was; the beginnings of new family traditions.
Traditions from youth morph into new family traditions
I was surprised at how much we both wanted certain traditions to carry on from when we were young. Some of the traditions are pretty generic and universal, like wanting to have a family snuggle time and communal breakfast complete with dinosaur and Mickey Mouse pancakes. Some of them were very different. Here are some different ways to build family traditions:
1. Friday night dancing
When I was a kid, my Dad taught my brother and I how to jitterbug. During my preteen years, we turned on the radio and spent our Friday nights dancing away. It was Montana, so you’ll have to imagine country music like George Strait and Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. These days, I turn the iPod on to shuffle through music like Jack Johnson & Dave Matthews, but I still love me some country faves like Shania Twain. Annabelle dances in the form of stomping her feet, clapping, marching, and twirling with her dollies. Liam hangs out in my Bjorn while I bounce him around. He is probably learning some kind of rhythm but mostly he burps a lot. Typical boy. I hope we keep this family tradition. The Nintendo Wii, if its still around, might be able to keep Friday Night dancing with the folks cool as the kids get older.
2. Go to concerts together
My hubby loves loves loves music and especially attending concerts. He sees himself on the grass with Annabelle sitting on his shoulders and me holding Liam listening to live music. As a result, we are going to a Phish concert with the kids. At first, I refused thinking that a Phish concert would have too much secondary “smoke” and full of adults having grown up time. While I do want to be cool, I have my limits. Imagine my surprise when my hubby told me that there was a kids section (for parents and young kids). At a Phish concert. I think my jaw is still somewhere on the floor. I am compromising and we are going to the Gorge to watch Phish. I’ll let you know how it turns out.
3. Plant & DIY an awesome garden
I am in the process of growing a garden. Annabelle will be digging in the dirt and planting seeds and seedlings. Liam will get to experience the smell of fresh dirt. As they grow over the summer, I’ll have her pick her own cucumbers, bring them into the house. I’ll clean them up and serve them to her. From the garden to the plate, the kids have to know where food comes from. Research has shown if the kids are growing their own food, they feel responsible for it and will eat their veggies. I’ll also be making a DIY greenhouse and doing a few other cool garden growing things (Thank you Pinterest!). How is it not cool to know how to dig in the dirt, make things grow, and use a Dremel 4000-2/30 120-Volt Variable Speed Rotary Tool Kit? Dude. Besides, don’t you know that DIY’ers make awesome Mom’s too?
4. Baking in the kitchen
Hanging out and baking or cooking in the kitchen is fun and its not just the woman’s domain anymore. Cool guys like Bobby Flay, Tom Douglas, and Jamie Oliver are all in the kitchen too. We are starting off with simple things, Annabelle helps me stir the oatmeal before I put it on the stove, she “helps” me pour the milk into her glass (her hand is on top of mine when I pour the milk). We made a yogurt cake together using the recipe from Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting. In the book, she talks about the relationship that the French have with food and one of the things they do is to start baking young. This recipe is incredibly easy and a two year old can do it with help (we did and Annabelle isn’t even two yet). Doing this gives toddlers a sense of control and accomplishment in the kitchen, which helps to grow her self esteem and a lot of other things blossom as a result.
5. Beat some pans on NYE
Every family needs some good holiday traditions. The first year we were dating, Honey and I started the tradition of running around the house on NYE and beating pans. The tradition is based on scaring all the evil spirits out of the house. I think we have mostly mischievous spirits that give the kids some not so great ideas, but anyhoo, we plan on getting rid of them. Right now, I’m wondering why I don’t do this on a monthly, or even weekly basis.
When its time to stop being cool
There are two times to stop being cool. The first is when the tradition gets in the way of being a parent. The second is when kid start to form his/her own ideas of what “cool is” and me, I don’t want to force my “old school cool” ideas onto them. I agree with Penelope Trunk in this regard. The point is that as the kids get older they will find their own way, their own likes and dislikes.
The end game is that this list will give kids a phenomenal and safe beginning into exploring the different facets of the world around them.