On Saturdays I make pancakes. Like with everything I cook or bake, I rarely follow a recipe. Most of the things are edible. Either that or the boys are kind.
This day the sun is painting the windows and that good feeling of being happy with where I am settles in. Pancakes with a side of boys’ laughs and silliness. The spelt pancakes are good. Sun and maple syrup splattered on plates.
The boys open the “what if” vault. What if we could have any superpower in the world, they ask? What would we choose? They ask for five. They choose invisibility, being able to fly, teleportation, immortality — theirs and others — and to never get sick. Good ones.
It’s my turn now. They sit at the table, eyes wide, hands up ready to do the count. OK, go.
First — I want to be good.
“Mom, are you kidding?”
Next — patience.
“Mom, you just wasted two,” they proclaim.
Like they know. It’s because they live in this moment without a care about the next. It’s because I know about those times when parenting beautiful yet wild boys takes every ounce of goodness out of me and makes it disappear in a shameless act of magic.
“OK, next,” they urge.
Gratefulness. To remember. Things like today’s sweetness, the sun burrowing in their hair. By now the boys roll their eyes and giggle. Silly mom.
“Don’t you want to live forever?” they ask.
Now that would be a wasted wish, I tell them.
“You’d never die, mom....”
I ponder it. The answer is still no. Having travelled to the end of my wits and back often enough to know a few shades of darkness, I know that the superpowers I ask for — should the boys’ wish game ever become real — are the ones I really need.
Most of all, I want to hear myself wish for them and I want my boys to hear them too. We need to be accountable as parents. Not to other people, but to our children. We make mistakes. It’s part of the ride. Ups and downs, wearing shoes too big at times, clonking away.
It’s happened more than once that I’ve sanctioned their acts or words with, “How could you do that?” Their answer is embarrassing.
“But you do it too.”
Being humble and accountable to them — to know we’re wrong and to admit it — will help them.
“Two more wishes, mom.”
Never be sick, and one last one — to have the ability to have them close, come whatever may come. Groans and giggles.
The boys grab pancakes with their hands and then wipe on their shirts when I’m not looking.
“But we are, mom; and now you’ve wasted all of them.”
I lean back, sipping my hot cowboy coffee, feeling almost smug about how in fact I did not waste my wishes.
Accountability as a parent makes the ride worthwhile. Teaching our children about mistakes, their and ours, and how we learn from them, is important.
Remembering that we’re parents because they are our children — and being grateful for the superpowers they give us — is valuable. Naughty faces, sticky hands and all.
Daniela Ginta is a scientist, mother, writer and blogger. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.