Andrea Mara

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Slow Parenting

“So what did you do for St Patrick’s Day?” asked our lovely optician on Monday. “Did you go into the parade?”

“No…” said the child.

“Did you watch it on TV?”

“No, Dad was watching the match, so we didn’t see it.”

I jumped in then, quick to clarify that I’d been at a wedding, so my husband had stayed home with the three kids – both of us deeming the Dublin parade a two-parent situation. Their cousins had come over, and they’d played for hours and baked and had a lovely time. Lovely, I promise. Albeit oblivious to the any parades at all, live or on TV it seems.

It came up again today – my middle child was asked to write about what she did for St Patrick’s Day for her homework.

“That won’t take long!” I said, only half joking. And I started to wonder then (not for the first time) if my husband and I could be perhaps classed as lazy parents? (Or maybe practitioners of slow-parenting – that might be a better spin.)

I thought about Sunday, when the ground was covered in snow, and neighbours were out building snowmen with their children. We were curled up on the couch with books, while the kids played something to do with ninjas and fairies.

I thought about this morning, when I got really cross because we were so late for school, ignoring the nagging voice that told me if I’d just been a bit more organised myself, we’d have been out the door on time.

I thought about the unsigned homework journals, the unheard Irish reading, the people who ran out of socks last week (all of them) because the laundry was in an unpaired mountain in the basket.

I thought about the extra TV they had on Sunday night because I was engrossed in my book.

I thought about the trip to the shops yesterday – despite the beautiful weather – because I needed to return some purchases. I thought about the bribes – the free chocolates we got with our coffees – and I really did wonder about my parenting style. Slow isn’t going to cut it, this is starting to sound like really lazy parenting.

As I thought about all of this, I was standing at the bin in the kitchen paring pencils. I realised during my son’s homework that none of his colouring pencils have nibs on them anymore, so one by one, I went through the tortuous job of paring them. Then each nib fell out, and I pared them a second time. And some a third time. And some went in the bin. This is one of my least favourite tasks and I suspect I’ll be doing it again in a few days, but he’s in senior infants – the boy needs to colour.

I started dinner then; one child’s favourite dinner, because she’s a bit down today. I hugged the small boy when he got caught in some brambles, I wiped his tears, and I put cream on the gash on his back. I asked the glum child why she was feeling down and eventually got it out of her, and hopefully hugged her better. Or at least a little bit better. I arranged playdates, read notes, cleaned out lunch boxes, and then I pared more pencils. And I thought that maybe there’s a whole lot of parenting-work that goes on every day after all – work I forget about when I’m feeling guilty about a low-key bank holiday or a bit of extra TV on a Sunday night.

And when my daughter finished her homework, I read what she’d written:

On St Patrick’s Day I watched the rugby on TV because my mom was at a wedding. My two small cousins came and we played together. We baked cupcakes that had icing like the Irish flag. My Auntie brought a lemon drizzle cake and we all had a slice, except for my baby cousin who doesn’t have any teeth.

Actually, slow-parenting doesn’t sound too bad after all.







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