The heroes our kids deserve

Written by Michelle Robinson

This month’s column focuses on a very special relationship – the one we have with our kids. I use the phrase ‘our kids’ loosely, because as well as our children, I include in this cohort grandkids, step-kids, nieces, nephews and any child with whom you have a close relationship.

How old that child is really doesn’t matter. I think that most parents understand that parenting or
grandparenting goes on forever and secretly we’re very glad it does.

The incredible thing about being someone special to a young child, is that the child adores us so easily and profoundly. From the moment I told my 3 year old granddaughter, Emilia, that Poppy and I would be visiting her in Brisbane, she announced to all kinds of people and at very random times (like mid-stroke
during a swimming lesson) that “Ma Ma and Poppy are coming to see me soon!”

I imagine that’s no mean feat when your swimming style is essentially vertical and opening your mouth invites a torrent of pool water.

Having just returned from this visit, I have been reflecting on the honour with we were treated. Emilia’s trust that we could do no wrong, and her uncensored affection in hugs and proclamations of her love, demonstrated to me the responsibility and privilege that comes with loving a young child.

Our kids look for role-models during their formative years. There are plenty of perfect but fake rolemodels
in the collage of cartoons available on television. However, how realistic are any of these cartoon super-heroes, and why should our kids need to admire a 2D imitation of the real thing?

Their bar for excellence isn’t set so high. They delight in the gift of our time when we fully engage with
their interests (minus messages, minus games, minus phonecalls that show we are only half involved).
They respond to our less than perfect selves with enthusiasm and glee. All we need to do is be in life, with them. Fully, in their life, with them. They don’t care if we can’t save the world or beat the baddie with our ray-gun. They don’t even care if we get puffed and fall over from the exertion of chasing them around. I was amazed at how long the old backyard game, ‘What’s the time Mr. Wolf?’ delighted Emilia. As long
as I growled, “Dinnertime!” as she snuck up on me and I chased her for ten steps or so, she was
hysterical with laughter. It was enough.

When I think of heroes, I know there are many Australians who are worthy of the title. Those who are publicly recognized for their courage, as well as the many who are unrecognized, deserve our respect and admiration.

Along parallel lines, I have found myself reflecting on how little our young ones expect from us in return for their esteem. We have the opportunity to be their real-life heroes. We don’t need to pretend to be perfect, or hide our challenges. Kids don’t need us to offer them anything apart from our love, our patience, our time, and our efforts to be the best we can be. In a hurried world, I know this is very hard at times, but that doesn’t mean we should stop striving. Our kids are worthy of that.

Perhaps, you feel the same way.