It’s a truth universally acknowledged that icebreakers are the worst, right? Well they are for the socially anxious anyway.
It’s strangely stressful to come up with random and interesting facts about yourself on the fly. I often panic and choose the weirdest, most uninteresting things about myself to include.
I’ve never worn contacts…because I don’t need glasses…because I have good eyesight.
After a few of those embarrassing showings in school, I got into the habit at a young age of noting quirks or little known facts about myself, squirreling them away in the event of a sudden onset icebreaker situation. This is how I manage my anxiety: constant preparedness for the most absurd and obscure situations.
This is such an ingrained habit that even though I haven’t had to participate in an icebreaker in years, I still find myself cataloguing facts or traits about myself on occasion. I realized I still do this when a few weeks ago, on an otherwise unremarkable evening, I noted to myself that I’ve gotten pretty damn good at reading books to my kid.
This may sound strange and like no big deal, but let me set the scene here: I do voices and accents for each character, sound effects when appropriate, and make up songs that accompany wordless images. It’s a whole performance that makes the book more engaging, for both my kiddo and myself since we’ve likely read the book a solid three hundred times already. It’s become a fun skill to cultivate, though I wasn’t doing it with express intention other than I enjoy it, my son loves it, which is all the fuel I need to keep honing it.
This got me thinking; I bet every parent has a hidden talent that no one but your child or children will ever know about, or witness on a regular basis. And your children may not even realize it’s unique or different from other parents since they only have you.
To test my theory, I asked my husband what he thinks his would be. He went quiet and thought for a long time before finally announcing: Toddler Civil Engineering.
The guy does make a mean toy city and train set combo that flows effortlessly from station to station between rooms. Our kiddo loves playing trains with Daddy because of this. I nodded in approval — that is totally his parenting hidden talent! EVERYONE must have them! My sample size of two is plenty enough on which to go forward with this assertion.
I thought back to my own parents who I realized had (and still have) several. For example, my dad (hi dad!) would draw different characters from the funnies (the comic strips in newspapers — did I need to explain that? Is there a generational gap on that one?) on our lunch bags with a sharpie when we were little. Ziggie, Calvin and Hobbes, Garfield and Otis. I loved them! Yet, I’m only just remembering this happened.
Because I was a kid and therefore self-centered and kinda dumb, I didn’t save them or really do anything else with them besides enjoy them at the time, then throw them away (sorry dad). If he were a dad to young kids now, you know he’d have an Instagram with thousands of followers and get the appreciation of the masses that he deserved. Instead, this talent remained hidden.
My mom’s hidden talent was (and still is) notes. She would leave notes, cards, post-its, all over for us. A note to have a good day on my jacket before school if she had to go to work early, notes to greet us when we got home with thoughtful messages, reminders, advice, sometimes even with a $5 bill aka “mad money”. She lives five miles from me now, but still sends me cards in the mail sometimes “just because”. I love it and always have.
When I was young, I just assumed all moms and dads did stuff like this. But I’ve since learned, that every parent has their own special skills and assets.
We often focus so much on all the ways we are failing as parents, all the things we don’t or can’t do or give our children, all the ways we may be screwing up or not keeping up with other parents or the demands of a work/life balance. We likely won’t be thanked by our kids for our small but deeply loving gestures for many, many years, yet. So I say let’s take a minute and think on all the things we do right, all the ways our kids are so unbelievably lucky to have us, uniquely us, as their parents.
Maybe it’s the ability to make a song out of any activity. Or to give stuffed animals expert-level names. Or maybe it’s that you can quiz your child with math problems off the top of your head (will never be me, sorry, buddy). Maybe you can make a basketball hoop out of any vessel or arrange a plated face out of any meal. Maybe it’s your ability to whip up the most comforting of meals. The possibilities are endless and I bet you have so many more than you even think.
Let me know in the comments here, or the comments on Instagram what your parenting hidden talent is or what your own parent’s were/are. I would love to know and help shed light on these wonderful quirks and delightful traits that your kids will always remember, that make you uniquely you as a parent.
Let’s celebrate all the ways parenting has brought out a side or talent in ourselves that we never would have otherwise accessed or realized made you a hero in your kid’s eyes.
Photo Credit: The amazing Icarian Photography