In my goal to raise good human beings, I’ve been impressed along the way with the quality of parenting I’ve encountered. Some parents are just so naturally good at it, and others such hard workers; but I have also learned, nearly all have a trick. Every parent I know has an item, something they feel they could not live without. So, I have conducted an informal survey of my parent friends posing the question: What item, as a parent, could you not live without?, and have compiled the answers below for your pleasure.
The fifth most popular answer was rusks. For those of you who are not yet parents, rusks are hard cookies made of some indescribably tough, yet edible, material, that allows young teething children to relieve the pain in their gums by gnawing on these cookies for hours. These cookies also have the added benefit, when added to boiling water, of being an amazing wallpaper paste, glue for toddler art projects and spackle for your next decorating project. The value of this item is the sanity it brings; and this very popular ‘couldn’t live without it’ item leads directly into my favourite.
Number four: baby wipes. Aside from the obvious use on poopy bottoms, dirty hands and faces (not the same wipe, obviously) this product has survived in our home despite the fact that we are a long way from the diaper years. A friend of mine suggested this on the list, for the following reason – “I could take a substitute shower on my way to work, if I just have a box of wipes.” While the visual image of that was a little bit frightening, I had to concede that wipes have been a lifesaver for us too. Wipes have the ability to remove chocolate milk stains from the front of a dinosaur t-shirt, blood from a hockey jersey on picture day, red wine from a white blouse following a quick ‘after work’ drink, and an embedded rusk cookie from an upholstered car seat. Once, in a pinch, I polished my shoes, removed and reapplied makeup, cleaned the interior, and even parts of the exterior, of my car on my way to an important client lunch with a single box of wipes. They are no less than a miracle.
The number three most essential item on the list was a DVD player in the back seat of the car. This simple item has revolutionized the family road trip. No longer do kids look for the sleeping sibling to stick gum in their hair, just for the fun of it, or have to play endless games of ‘I Spy’ with cheating cousins. The trip to the cottage was never more enjoyed, by parents and children alike, than with the addition of the sweet, sultry tones of a Disney musical emanating from the back seat, as your children actually enjoy a drive in bumper to bumper traffic in the heat of summer. I think I’ve heard the words to the movie Dodge Ball about 30 times – I’ve still never laid eyes on the characters in front of a television set.
The number two most popular parenting item was really more for the parents of the teenaged set. It’s an electric Panini maker. One of my colleagues claims it’s revolutionized her relationship with her teenaged son. No longer are the first three words out of his mouth, as she crossed the threshold after a long day at work, the dreaded “What’s for dinner?” With the simple inclusion of the panini maker in their kitchen, leftovers become gourmet fillings, stale bread becomes a hot, golden crust, and her grouchy teenager is transformed into the Gordon Ramsey of the suburban set. She noted, and as a mother of teenagers I had to agree, it also had the added bonus that she doesn’t have to worry that he might forget what he was doing and burn the house down. Don’t laugh, toddler parents – one day you’ll worry less about sleeping through the night, and more about your home and car insurance. Just wait.
And finally, the number one answer of ‘Things I Couldn’t Live Without’ was…hockey. This came from more than one parent, and of both boys and girls. While I’m a huge fan myself, I was surprised to learn that so many parents see this as an essential to raising good, wholesome Canadian children. The rationale was simple, really.
Hockey teaches them many character traits they will need in life, with a simple once a week visit to the rink. My friend’s rationale was that hockey was teaching her son and daughter about teamwork – that you could have a losing season but a great time with your team and conversely, could have a winning season but never feel the team come together. It teaches children discipline, and commitment, and loyalty. They were learning that life has rules; break the rules and you sit out for a while. It was also teaching them responsibility – getting up early, being ready to play, having all their equipment in their bag, and controlling their actions on the ice for the greater goal. These, I had to agree, were all valuable lessons that our children were learning.
As you raise your own children to be good human beings, you’ll find your own item. No matter what age your children are, check your glove compartment, the bottom of your purse, the cupboard most frequently opened…Mom, Dad, what is it you cannot live without?