As a parent, my pet peeve is how our national conversation always revolves around the fact that raising kids is expensive. Not that I’m rolling in dough but this excessive emphasis on dollars and cents, I feel, brings about a reductionist narrative. There are other exacting costs to being a parent, none of which you can glean from lovely-dovey photos of your friends and their offspring on social media. No matter how prepared you are, parenting throws you lemons that you have to make lemonade with, even though you really hate sour lemons.
Here’s an example: when I fetched my boy at the childcare centre, he saw a schoolmate going home with an elaborate zoo made of cardboard, toy animals, basically the whole works. Guess what he wanted me to do that night? Now I can think of ten other things I would much rather do than make a pretend zoo. Doing something which is not my cup of tea is an energy-sapling activity. Plus, children are incredibly persistent and I knew that he would keep bugging me about it until I succumbed to his command. Imagine a shrill loudspeaker on repeat mode.
Anyway, I thought I was being smart because I deliberately cut a small piece of cardboard so that I could fill in a few animals and get it over and done with. But nooooooo, he was not happy about it. Of course, being half-Japanese, he was good-natured about it: “It would be great if the zoo were bigger.” But honestly, I was bummed and irritated that my attempt to cut corners failed.
The next night, I proactively cut out a bigger piece of cardboard so that he could paste pictures of other animals and place his prized toys on it. My stakeholder was suitably pacified.
And guess where we are headed to this weekend? The zoo! Thank goodness I personally like visiting zoos.