My wife and I have come to the realization that our kids are cooler than us. It’s painful to admit. We expected it to happen much later in life. But they just seemed to come out that way. We had very little to do with it.
So here’s a game we accidentally developed when I flippantly said one night, “Man, I wish I were as cool as our kids.” My wife and I have found great joy in this little game. You can play it if you want. The next time your kids do something that makes you smile and just shake your head, say this out loud – “Man, I wish I were as cool as (insert kid’s name).”
It’s great. You can play it anywhere. Amidst the hustle and bustle of modern parenting, it helps to slow down just a little and acknowledge the innate coolness of our kids. After all, we spend most of our time worrying that we’re just messing them up.
Here’s my list of 5 reasons why my kids (and probably all kids) are cooler than me. I bet you’ve got a pretty great list too.
1. They Don’t Meet Strangers.
Our family recently attended a Halloween themed birthday party at the home of a relative. In true Louisiana fashion, there was a bar at the party. (If you’re not from Louisiana, don’t judge. We do things a little different.)
The bar tender at the party was in her mid to late 20’s and came dressed in full costume. From a distance, I watched and listened as my 4-year old son, decked out in his Transformer costume, walked up to the bar alone and ordered himself a Sprite.
I didn’t hear the entire conversation between he and the bartender. But I heard him introduce himself as “Jake Cain.” I heard him ask for the Sprite. I heard him ask what something was on the bar (chopped up limes in a bowl). I watched her pop one of the limes in his Sprite. I heard him ask her what she was dressed as. I heard him explain that he was dressed as Optimus Prime. I watched him show her the imaginary guns on his shirtsleeves that allowed him to blast the bad guys.
As an introverted dad watching that moment, I can emphatically say…
“Man, I wish I were as cool as Jake.”
2. They Dress Cool.
When my daughter was little, my wife told her go to her room and change into an “outfit” that had been placed on her bed. A few minutes later she emerged from her room decked out in pieces of various “outfits” that she had assembled on her own in lieu of the clothes her mother picked out. Boots. Skirt. Shirt. Scarf. Jacket. Headband. Purse. Sunglasses.
Before we had time to jump into this great power struggle between parents and child, we just kind of looked at each other. We had been knocked off of our parenting game. We were prepared to defeat this great fashion rebellion at all costs. But you know what? She looked pretty cool. Way cooler than she would have looked in what my wife had picked out for her.
Later that night, as we were reflecting on the day, my wife admitted that in that moment, she wished she had my daughter’s sense of style.
“Man, I wish I were as cool as Emerson.”
3. They Don’t Easily Conform.
The featured picture on this post is my son, Jake, decked out in a red sweatshirt and his University of Georgia cap. This picture was snapped on a Saturday morning during the college football season as we were running errands around town.
We live about an hour away from Baton Rouge. Jake’s mother graduated from LSU’s nursing school. As those of us that hail from the great state of Louisiana know, it is customary to wear purple and gold (not red) on a Saturday during the football season. Typically, our family abides by this tradition.
But on this particular morning, Jake decided that he would be wearing his Bulldog paraphernalia. Jake’s grandmother graduated from the University of Georgia and purchased him the gear. He’s proud of it. He even knows the Georgia cheers. I guess it could be worse. At least Georgia is in the SEC East.
I love this picture because I can only imagine what Jake might tell an LSU fan at this particular moment were they to give him a hard time about the Georgia gear his Nanny gave him. I know what he’s told me when I’ve given him a hard time about his Georgia gear. It would not have been pretty. I would probably have had to do some “show parenting.” You know the obligatory “calm down Jake” and the “that’s not how we talk to grown ups Jake.” But what would I really be thinking?
“Man, I wish I were as cool as Jake?”
4. They Laugh Really Loud.
My kids seem to do everything a little too loud. They talk a little too loud. They play a little too loud. Sometimes they even sleep a little too loud. Most of the time it just drives me crazy.
With 3 young kids, we’ve spent a lot of time having at least one baby in the house that we’re trying to either get to sleep or keep asleep. Loud siblings aren’t very conducive to babies sleeping.
But genuine, child like, loud laughter is kind of awesome. There is something innately cool about watching someone being genuinely and loudly happy. It’s kind of refreshing to hear in a world in which so many of us lead very guarded lives.
All of our kids have been loud laughers. But our youngest, Moss, seems to have mastered the art. He literally came out of the womb laughing. As tired and run down as I may be on any given day, when Moss belts out one of his genuinely loud laughs, I pause just for a minute and think…
“Man, I wish I were as cool as Moss.”
5. They Wake Up Early To Go Swing.
When my kids go back to Natchitoches to visit their grandparents, they inevitably wake up earlier than I would like. They don’t wake up early to get ready for school. They don’t wake up early because we’re rushing them out the door to get to work. They wake up early to go swing.
My wife’s parents live on Cane River. And if you were to ask my kids, they would tell you that their MawMaw and PawPaw have the single greatest swing on the planet. I’m sure they have great swings in China and India. But nothing like this. It’s tied to the tallest tree you’ve ever seen and it sends its occupants sailing high into the air towards the river.
I’m not sure how many generations have experienced that swing. It’s been there as long as I have been around the family. It services all ages. It’s big enough for adults. Secure enough for kids. And there is even an interchangeable baby swing seat for when our kids and their cousins were younger.
I’ve spent countless hours pushing our kids and nieces back and forth on that swing. I must admit that my mind often wanders to the various tasks that I have to complete when I return back home after a weekend in Natchitoches. As my wife would say, I’m not truly “present” in those moments.
But not my kids. As they swing back and forth out over the river, they are totally present. They are totally consumed in the simple joy of swinging (when not fighting about whose turn it is to swing). The wind in their hair. The sensation of flying. The echo down the river when they scream. They’re present for all of it.
And as I watch them find great pleasure in the simple act of swinging, I think…
“Man, I wish I were as cool as my kids.”