One of the most surprisingly baffling challenges I face in my thirties is how to deal with children. I’m not talking about the children you know – when I married my husband I also levelled up to Auntie status, and my three nieces are absolutely flawless. I am talking about the children you don’t know. Maybe you find yourself hosting a birthday party and the PTA President’s son has your cat in a vice grip. Perhaps at a pool party celebrating school’s end, you catch the host begging little Timmy to play soccer away from her vegetable garden. (It’s a losing battle, Jeanine).
If you need tips and tricks for dealing with children, you’ve come to the right place! Let’s take a look at some tried and true ways of being kind of okay with kids:
EVERYTHING IS AMAZING
Oh, the dog is fast? The dog is barking? Mother of god, call the goddamn governor. That dog is fast and barking! You are just as shocked and excited as the children are! Perhaps you’re even genuinely reconsidering your opinion of dogs, adjusting for the fact that they can dictate their speed and speech – you had no idea! Maybe you like dogs less now, maybe more. The real issue is, as a child will surely ask: “Why is dog?” And therein lies the true question.
Why is dog? Why, indeed.
PRETEND YOU’RE SHARING A SECRET (YOU’RE NOT)
This is a guaranteed ice breaker with kids. I would do this all the time with kids under three. If they’re under three, you can straight up pretend someone is spilling tea even if no one is talking. Babies don’t know anything, so they are perfect for deception. It is so easy to fool a child. Here’s the long and short of it: Whenever an adult says something – anything – look at the little kid, put a finger to your lips and go “Shhh.” I have no idea why, but babies love this. Those gossipy little rascals will go for the lowest hanging fruit, which in this case is literally nothing.
Sometimes you can even get away with telling a baby real secrets. I once told a baby that, in my opinion, everyone considers themselves a film critic these days and if it weren’t for the internet, we wouldn’t have to entertain their trite and unnecessary critiques on The Dark Knight. Who’s that baby gonna tell? That baby is never going to rat me out as a pretentious piece of trash. Anyway, that’s why it’s cool to tell babies your secrets.
REALITY IS SUBJECTIVE
Okay, so I know that reality is subjective anyway, but for kids, you’ve got to multiply it to the tenth power. When you are dealing with kids, it is best to leave logic at the wayside. Kids haven’t experienced the cognitive limitations adults have: Kids believe shooting stars can grant wishes, that monsters can live under the bed, that when they grow up, they’ll eat candy for every meal of the day. When you’re just a kid, you have more than the world can offer ahead of you. Sometimes as an adult, it’s nice to get lost in that, even just for a moment.
We covered the three major hurdles you need to overcome to relate to children: everything is amazing, secrets are privileged, and dreams do come true. An astonishingly incorrect summation of life if you were to ask anyone over the age of 25, but hey, even just for a moment: Let’s be kids again. I hope you hold your breath the next time you drive through a tunnel. I hope you make your partner take three guesses before revealing to them how your boss overstepped your boundaries today. Play rock, paper, scissors for laundry duties.
The only real way to relate to kids is to remain relatable.