One day my five-year-old paused from his play and approached me with his idea. ``Mom,'' Scott said, ``pretend I can grant you all your wishes.''
``That sounds too good to be true!'' I exclaimed.
``It is -- but just pretend,'' he said.
We exchanged wishes for a moment and enjoyed ourselves thoroughly. Then we talked about fantasy and reality before Scott ran off to rejoin his playmates.
I sat a few moments longer and contemplated several wishes that nobody else in the world could hear. They involved a number of parental qualities that I've often wished I had more of. And just thinking about them made me more aware of the challenging responsibility of being a parent.
Wishful thinking for many other parents, too, might include the day-to-day need for:
Good old determination. To turn off the television set and prompt or help children to seek out meaningful activities to do on rainy days.
Listening skills. For the child who has something he wants me to hear when I've got so many other things to do.
Patience. In abundant amounts for mornings similar to when Paul dumped an entire box of cereal on the couch, while Katy scribbled on the walls with markers, and Scott decided to help me with the laundry by stripping every bed in the house.
Enthusiasm. That quality that would get the children and me initiating and involving ourselves in more physical activities, even if it is just a simple hike together, or a visit to the park.
Wisdom. To properly deal with times such as the day our boys fought over their sister's birthday present and broke it.
Creativity. Including a better knowledge of the creative arts and some fresh ideas that would keep our children and ourselves on a constant pathway of learning and enjoyment.
A sense of humor. On days when a 10-minute task takes an hour to complete, or for times when the boys compete for my attention during a phone call and the baby runs down the hallway with a roll of bathroom tissue.
Conviction of a principle. For moments when it would be easier to give in and satisfy an insistent whim.
Time-outs. For parents. As indispensable as we sometimes think we are, we need to make time for our own hobbies, sports, or interests. Our preschoolers occasionally object going to racquetball nursery, but I quickly remind them that this is one of mother's ``time-outs.''
Knowledge. To recognize situations where exceptions to rules must be made, and also knowledge to realize and pursue times for family fun.
Objectivity. When dealing with each individual child, realizing they have their own special needs.
Perseverance. In enormous portions for the times when it would be less complicated to do something myself, and for times when I feel that the children are deliberately tempting me to toss up my hands and turn in the other direction.
And last, the simple ability to enjoy and appreciate these wonderful days of parent-child interaction.