Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Cold Bottle Theory

I've come to the conclusion lately that parenting is tough. But we're good at finding ways to make it tougher.

We just came home from a great birthday party. The kids had a great time. The parents had a great time. There was no bouncy house. There was no ball pit. There was no juggler. There was a room full of toys, and 6 little girls who like playing together. (4 of the 6 were siblings, so really, only 4 families were there, including the hosts). No one got overstimulated. There were no tantrums. There was a lot of giggling. And time for the parents to hang out and chat. And silence when the food was served.

My friend is a very capable cook. You don't turn down invites to her house. She and her husband produce some pretty spectacular Christmas dinners that we've had the privilege to share over the last few years. Suckling pig. Beef Wellington. Standing rib roast. They know how to put on a feast. (We have quite a few friends like this. You have to step up to the plate whenever you invite them over, but all-in-all, I can't complain.) This is the friend who introduced me to Pama. She's got good taste. But she knew better than to put in that level of effort for a 2 yr old birthday party. Don't get me wrong, the food was delicious. But she kept it simple.

She fed the kids macaroni and cheese. She boiled macaroni, drained it, and melted shredded cheese on top. Sharp cheddar. It was tasty. My 2 yr old ate 3 generous helpings. The girls were silent while they ate. I was happy to finish off HeyMama's leftovers. It was good. It took about 10 minutes to make. Genius. 

My friend is a great illustration of my Cold Bottle Theory. Why get your kids addicted to the multi-step mac and cheese (boil pasta, make b├ęchamel, make crumb topping, bake in oven) that takes over an hour when they're absolutely thrilled with something that requires only a small fraction of the effort? Why introduce your baby to bottles that are perfectly warmed to the exact right temp when mine happily accepted bottles cold, even straight from the fridge? HeyMama was fine with this from the very start. MeToo refused bottles altogether (warm, cold, everything in-between) until she took a sippy cup (cold!) at 6 months. (Perhaps some babies have trouble digesting cold stuff? I don't know. If so, then yes, I can see why you'd warm it up. But this wasn't my experience...)

But think of the ways that we make ourselves do extra steps for things kids don't really care about. Perfectly coordinated party supplies. Designer decor in the bedroom. Touring all of the West Zone schools when there are only 3 you'd let your kid to go to. I mean, if it makes you really happy to go to all the extra effort, than by all means, go for it! Be proud of the outcome! Just know that you did it for fun, not because you HAD to. 

There is plenty about parenting that is important and requires a lot of effort. Discipline. Teaching values. Making time for them when they need it. But I wonder how much of what we do spend time on is the fluff - the stuff that only WE feel is important?

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