Parenting is a Journey
An Adventure of Discovery Not Only of our Children But of Ourselves as Well
Starting a new year is a really special thing, especially for kids who don’t have decades of them under their belts. Here are a few ideas of ways to mark the arrival of 2018—and maybe all the years to come.
Create a “Lucky Meal” tradition.
We all know eating black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day is supposed to bring prosperity for the oncoming year. We also know they don’t appeal to a lot of young eaters. So why not create your own lucky meal tradition that you and your children make together? Most kids love to be included in cooking, so it could be something as easy as make your own pizza, or a stirfry with lucky ginger or maybe a sundae bar with auspicious sauces. Just to make sure you’re covered (some of us are more superstitious than others), maybe put a token black-eyed pea in whatever you create, so its happy influence will spread throughout the dish.
Playlist: The Black Eyed Peas—Let’s Get It Started.
Foretell the Future.
Have each family member write out predictions for things each believes will happen in the next year and seal them into envelopes you’ll open next year at the same time. It’s fun to read the previous year’s predictions, most of which you will have forgotten, and see which ones have come true. Forecast both events for your own family and ones for the wider world: how many teeth will the little one lose? Who’s most likely to learn a new sport? What are you afraid of that you’ll conquer in 2018? These small-scale questions can be merged with larger ones like, J.K. Rowling will write a new Harry Potter novel, or Taylor Swift will start making movies under the name Saylor Twift. Prophecies involving celebrities are always fun. Remember to put the envelopes where you won’t forget them over the intervening year. You can have rewards for the family member with the most correct guesses.
Playlist: Queens of the Stone Age—Suture Up Your Future
Go to the store to pick out an old-school wall calendar with beautiful pictures, and work with your kids to go month by month to decorate important days. Pick a calendar with oversized squares that they can use fine-tip markers to embellish the date of family and friends’ birthdays, anniversaries, school vacations… and of course holidays. It’s no mistake that many kindergarteners make monthly calendars in school; it’s a visceral way of marking time and having some control over what the upcoming days will hold.
Playlist: Luke Bryan—Fast
Rock It and Walk It.
Each family member paints a small rock and make sure the bottom contains the year and their name. After it dries, take a hike and find a secretive place to stash your rocks so that each year you can locate them and add another. You can even geocache the location if you want others to join the tradition. As the years go by, the colorful collection will grow. Placing the annual rock is also a great incentive for more reluctant hikers who need a better reason to go than just “it’s healthy to be in nature.”
Playlist: Stray Cats—Rock This Town
So much of our documenting of family life is overwhelming: hundreds, maybe thousands, of photographs that seem daunting to organize into photo books; journals that we start and neglect for months at a time. So why not a micro-journal that only has one entry, written on the last day of the year? Purchase a tiny notebook so its size seems friendly. Ask each person to write one entry: maybe their favorite memory from the year, or the funniest thing they remember happening. The small pages will fill up fast. Younger kids can dictate their entries to older kids or parents. Everyone shares in memorializing one special thing, and then that year’s journal is done. Keep the tiny journals in a small box in your closet; it will be fun to leaf through previous years’ notebooks as a ritual of touching base with the past.
Playlist: Elvis Costello—Every Day I Write the Book
Erika Mailman can be reached via www.erikamailman.com.