The best thing about being a parent? Having someone to be silly with.

Sure, parenting is hard work. But that isn’t all it is.

There’s a song that’s responsible for the birth of my two children. No, it’s not Stairway To Heaven. It’s a song about burritos that my husband and I made up years ago. We used to sing it every time we sat down to eat burritos (our favourite meal), usually while watching Survivor (our favourite TV show). Back then, we weren’t planning to have kids. But one day, it struck me how cool it would be to sing with a child of ours: three of us singing our own made-up song about burritos.

This wasn’t the only reason I decided I wanted to become a mother. But it was one of the reasons. I wanted someone else to join in our fun.

Someone wrote a book about parenting recently called All Joy And No Fun. I didn’t read the whole thing – I was too busy playing with my kids – but the gist of it is that parents don’t really enjoy parenthood. It’s hard work. It’s stressful. It’s expensive. Wah wah wah.

"Sure, there are times when we drive past a bar and I catch my husband’s eye and say, 'If we didn’t have the kids…' But we had nearly 20 years of going to bars before our kids came along. That's a pretty decent run."

I’ve read similar stuff before. Negative, cynical pieces by people who don’t seem to like spending time with their kids. Well, that’s them. I have fun being a parent.

I’m not suggesting parenting is all fun. Preparing food for two fussy eaters is tedious. Trying to convince a Year 2 student to do her homework every night is excruciating. Making an important work phone call while a 3-year-old screams over and over, “Charlie And Lola is finished! Charlie And Lola is finished!” is enough to make my head explode. But in between that, there’s a lot of fun stuff. Beaches. Backyard cricket. Lego. Decorating Christmas trees. Baking cupcakes. Reading books. Making jewellery. Planting vegetables. Catching ferries. Driving out to the country and looking at the stars.

Come on – everybody’s got to find at least some of those things fun. Right?

I love playing cricket with my three-year-old son. Why? Because he thinks I’m the best batter in the world. (Okay, so he’s not going to be asked to fill in for Richie Benaud anytime soon. He’s constantly telling me I’ve scored “a million points”.)

I love playing with Lego. In fact, I think I love it more than my kids do. I’d like to play it when they’re not around, sometime, so I could actually finish a house the way I want for once, instead of it always having a rooftop swimming pool full of construction workers.

I love playing in playgrounds with my kids. If I played on the equipment by myself, people would think I was on drugs. But when I’m with my kids, people just think I’m a really involved parent. Slippery dips? Fun. Tall towers to climb? Fun. Those new waterplay areas? So. Much. Fun. (Of course, I’m talking about beautiful sunny days here. I hate going to playgrounds on cold, windy days. Then I just stand there, shivering miserably. But at least our generation of parents has takeaway coffee and Facebook on our phones to make winter days at playgrounds more bearable.)


Things I don’t enjoy: playing Shaun the Sheep games on the computer, anything involving toy vehicles and excruciating back pain caused by leaping children. Fortunately, my husband does enjoy all those things.

"This song was one of the reasons I became a mother."

On weekends we go to fun places because we have kids, the sort of places we never would have gone without them. Mountains with snow on them. Medieval fairs. Arts festivals on islands. Sure, there are times when the kids are overtired and ratty, and we’re cajoling/carrying/dragging them to the train station, and I see a quiet bar, and I catch my husband’s eye, and say, “If we didn’t have the kids…” But we had nearly 20 years of going to bars before our kids came along. That’s a pretty decent run.

Even just chatting to my kids is fun. They’re freaking hilarious. I’m sure everyone thinks that about their kids, but they really are. My daughter, when she was little, had the habit of hearing a new word and then trying to work it into the conversation. “But I like sitting up on top of the car,” she’d tell me, as a four-year-old. “It makes me feel nostalgic.”

Weirdly, one thing we don’t do with our kids is sing the burrito song. That’s probably because they’re too fussy to eat burritos. But we do sing lots of made-up songs, often little ones that the kids have made up themselves. Like this one that my son would sing softly to himself while toilet training: “Come on wee, come on wee, come on out my willy.”

All together now…

This article was originally published on Helen Vnuk's blog and has been republished here with full permission.

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