Since my older sister, Sherene, is a teacher, and gets to enjoy my current state of “Funemployment” on an annual basis, she and her 7-year-old daughter, Lola, pack up their lives in the city every summer and head to my parent’s place. This, combined with my recent “return to the nest” syndrome, and the fact that my ass was a constant fixture on my parent’s couch, resulted in me assuming the position as a sort of defacto guardian of Lola for the summer – whether I liked it or not.
While only a few short months ago, I was billing consecutive 15 hour days and stressing over whether to end my e-mails with “sincerely” or “regards”, suddenly my life involved juggling track and field practices, making endless bowls of macaroni and cheese, and negotiating bed times.
Though I like to think that all of my caregiving (read: allowing her to watch unlimited food network and youtube videos while I continuously pressed ‘refresh’ on my facebook newsfeed) has had some sort of profound and long-lasting effect on Lola’s upbringing, I’m pretty sure in reality I am the one who has been changed. Not only does my conversational arsenal now include such statements as “HEY- I am the adult here!” (which will undoubtedly be useful when dealing with senior partners at my law firm); I have also learned a lot about myself . And so without further adieu, I present to you:
5 things I have discovered about myself since becoming a pseudo-parent:
1. The fact that I am going to be a future stage mom is pretty much a foregone conclusion… and not in the David Brent “freelove on the freelove freeway” kind of way. No no. I’m talking serious Kris Jenner/ Toddlers and Tiaras shit here.
I found phrases such as “I don’t care if you are tired, you are running another 400 m – and this time you are breaking 2:20, or we’re doing it again”; and “yes, a base coat and top coat are both necessary. Now don’t touch anything for at least 40 minutes” coming out of my mouth at random intervals. And I’m just gonna go ahead and say it- if there is an occasion on which it is socially acceptable to wear makeup, my pre-pubescent future child is sure as hell gonna wear it.
2. My taste in music is questionable at best. After handing over my spare ipod to Lola to be used during track practices (see #1), and her hanging around me while I read countless music blogs all day, besides becoming obsessed with Britney Spears and J-Lo (oops), she had a few tough questions for me that I really didn’t have an answer for. Like “Why DOES Pitbull pronounce his own name so funny?” and “Why IS no one watching the little boy in Bon Iver’s Holocene video??”
3. A number of things I looked to as pillars of my childhood are actually complete and total bullshit. For example, recently, I asked Lola whether she had seen “Aladdin“. Unsure, she asked me to give her a brief plot synopsis. “Oh you know, boy meets princess, they cant be together but they fall in love anyway, bad guy tries to keep them apart, they sing a lot of songs”. After taking a second to think it over, she looks at me and says: “I think I have seen that. Is it also called “The Little Mermaid“?
Touche Lola, touche.
And as if discovering that all Disney movies follow the exact same plotline wasn’t enough (don’t look at me like that… good for you for having made this discovery 20 years ago) another one of my favourite childhood memories was recently crushed. I was a huge fan of The Berenstein Bears as a kid, and have taken to buying Lola one or two books from the series for every occasion. Recently, I was browsing the racks at Chapters and stumbled across a couple of questionable titles I had never seen before: “The Berenstain Bears: God Loves You“; “The Berenstain Bears go to Sunday School” and “The Berenstain Bears Discover God’s Creation“.
Reeling from this discovery, I rushed home and flipped through my old collection thinking there must have been some sort of mistake. But no- there they were, in each glossy covered story, a thinly veiled bible passage…. as consistent as sister bear’s pink jumpsuit and polka dot top. Apparently I was too busy hating on Lizzy Bruin and Queenie McBear to notice that I was being religiously brainwashed.
Note to self: find new go-to gift.
4. I apparently look exactly like Selena Gomez.
5. I myself, was an extremely neurotic and unusual child.
Although not particularly precocious (see above), I definitely was a bit of a nerd at heart. This was reaffirmed to me this summer when Lola and I bumped heads over a number of things. For example, bedtime. Try as I might, I just could not understand her refusal to go to bed at a reasonable hour. I personally had a self-imposed bedtime of 8:00p.m every night until grade 3, when I graduated myself to 8:30. (What?? Don’t give me those “bitch has OCD” side eyes… children thrive from routine, it’s a proven fact).
I also struggled to understand when Lola became despondent and cranky at the idea of going back to school. umm how could she not be excited about this?? Fresh notebooks, shiny new backpack?? This culminated in me having a small-scale freak out when she insisted on wearing her new school clothes around the house BEFORE school started. Tears were involved. I’m not gonna say who. But rest assured, she got the message in the end.
So there you have it. Having a bit of an existential crisis? Spend some time with a 7 year old. While I’m partial to Lo, any one will do. Better, and more fun than a self-help book, they are sure to teach you a thing or two about yourself… just make sure you are prepared for what you might find out 😉