By the end of the summer I will have perfected the art of parenting.

Ok, I am more full of myself than I need to be right now. I don’t think anyone has ever perfected that craft – even parents like my mom who are flipping amazing. I can tell you that I love to take care of people and after this summer I would have seen and hung out with my niece and nephews more than I ever have in the last three years.

They have frequented my house during the weekends this summer more than I thought. Even during the week days. Which, for the most part isn’t so a bad. But, whenever they are here I never sleep. My insomnia seems to kick it up a notch as I over extend myself ensuring my babies are taken care of. Which means: meal duty, sleepy duty, playground duty, poopy duty, and basically anything they needed was done. Mostly, they drive me nuts.

This weekend, however, taught me a few things.

  • A three-mile hike may not be suitable for grass scared boys.

If it a kid’s first time hiking it may be wise to explain to them what to expect on the hike. Otherwise, a 1 hour to 1 1/2 hour hike will double. You will also be pestered with questions that repeat itself – not just the “Are we there yet?” question. What is this? Why does this have thorns? What is on that tree? Do I have to walk through that? Am I going to get dirty?

By the end of the first trip I was ready to fling the kid on my back and run like the wind just to get off the trail and onto the beach. Speaking of beach…

  • Boys who don’t often play in the sand can’t keep sand off the blanket.

I was born and raised in Hawaii so I was always at the beach. We had parties there. We went camping there. We had picnics there. We worked there. We had to learn pretty quick that sand in your eyes, on your towel, in your food sucks. I guess I took that for granted. Which is why when they got sand in their food I stressed about what I had that would feed them. Next time, I’ll strap them down to a log before touching the sand, and force feed them their food first.

  • Kids back in my day and today have different views of playing

I grew up playing tag, touch football, skateboarding at the local ramp, and just being outside. We only usually watched cartoons on Saturday mornings. If my mom or dad said go play we usually responded with, “can I go to so and so’s house” or something equivalent. When I tell my weekend charges to go play the reciprocated action was to pick up their iPhone or ask to go on the PlayStation. I didn’t even have any electronic device until I was an 8th grader and that was only because my mom needed to know where I was with basketball so she got me a pager.

  • Even at four there are still accidents

At a church BBQ while there is barely any noise and there is just one person talking it is pretty easy to hear a four year old say, “I have to make do-do!” This is shortly after he took my chili and ate it. Can I add the chili was delicious but SPICY? We quickly ran to the bathroom only to realize it was in use. Then we are quickly escorted to the second bathroom but it was a little too late. He had an accident and we had no extra clothes. Don’t ever, never ever, ever leave the house without extra clothes for your young charge. Otherwise, you’ll be in an unfamiliar bathroom, with poopy underwear in your hands washing it in the sink. It sucks.

I may not have kids of my own and I still text my mom when I have my niece and nephews if I think something is wrong. But hey, maybe they’re preparing me for the real thing? I’m learning and they are making sure I learn it all the hard way.

To all you parents, I applaud you. Thanks for letting me give them back. xoxo