#1 (That’s you!)
1. You listen. When your child comes to you with a problem or an idea, you stop what you are doing, look at your child and focus so you can really hear what it is they are trying to tell you. Even if your child is not quite conversant, you are the one they come to because they know you will hear what it is they have to share. And that to you, it and they are important.
2. You look out for them. You have found the best preschool, after vetting all others. You have found the best pediatrician, the best brand of bike, the best kind of vitamin. You do this because they are not yet able to do this for themselves. You do this because you love them first and want them to have the most. You do this because you care, and you know that investing effort is important.
3. You think they are the best/brightest/smartest/(fill-in-the-blank-est). Not so much blindly as unconditionally, you support your child(ren). You know they are great; you can’t imagine anyone doing/singing/painting/running/etc better. The rose-tinted glasses aside, you are the best supporter for your child. They look to you to give your approval, and it means the world to them when you do.
4. You say no. It’s one thing to be 100% supportive for your child. It’s quite another to be a doormat. You say no so they learn limits and understand that to gain something, they must work for it. You say no
so that they gain compassion for those who do not always get what they want. You say no so they learn to work harder and achieve for themselves.
5. You fix their owies. Your kiss alone can work miracles, did you know that? You can impart Wolverine-like healing powers with a single bandaid. You can help dry eyes and stop the lower lip quiver with a heart-felt hug. A talk with you can fix heartache, and can remind them of what they DO have rather than weep for what they do not.
6. You sing songs and tell stories. You read books, and, when they are older, carry on an educated and heated discussion about who is the worst villain and which Harry Potter book is the best. You can debate Marvel superheroes with the best of them. You care about what they read. You can make a story out of any elements, and the kids love every adventure tale you spin. Your singing voice isn’t anything that’ll win awards, but you still belt out the song du jour, be it about a little lamb, ABC’s or the latest fad song.
7. You feed them. You research what they put in their mouths, and make sure it is the healthiest that you can manage. You give them fruits and veggies, and grains, and encourage them to try new foods even if they hate the (insert texture/color/food here). You let them have sweets, but not too much, and give them enough snacks so they can make it through to bedtime without feeling a gnawing hunger in their bellies. You get them up in time for breakfast even though it’s a daily battle, and you give them enough water and fluid to keep them hydrated. You teach them to recognize and properly read the signals their bodies give them for hunger and for thirst.
8. You transport them. Did anyone tell you before you had kids how much time you would be spending in the car? You do it, even though there are at least a dozen other things you’d rather be doing. You drive them to school and home; you drive them to lessons and practice; you drive them to friends’ houses; you car pool; you ride buses for fields trips; and all along you make sure the seat and vehicle in which they sit is the safest you can manage.
9. You shelter them. You give them warmth when they need it, and umbrella when it rains. You give them shorts when they want it. You brave the squirming and protests to spray and smear with sunblock and bug repellent, to keep them safe from the strong rays and creepy crawlies. You make sure jackets and coats fit after a season packed away, and find keep gloves handy even when they lose a pair (or two).
10. You play. You get down on the floor, building lego dragons and castles. You know the best way to build a matchbox racetrack that will challenge even the fastest car. You help them make a play castle out of a box, and whet imaginations with long stories about the ogre that lives in the forest during a family hike. You don’t mind the dirt, sand and grime that is a part of wrestling, and you can keep up in soccer. You have enjoyed hundreds of cups of tea with a myriad of companions – stuffed and imaginary – and you love a good mud pie when it’s offered.
Believe in yourself. You are a good parent. You are the best parent your kid can have. Wallow in that, and enjoy knowing that You. Are. Number. One.