Can you be the cool parent?
I was never the cool kid.
If you’ve been a reader/follower/watching of AfroDaddy for a while, that may not surprise you in the least. There were a lot of reasons for this - I lack any real sense of style, I was one of the poorer kids at my school, and I was (and in many respects still am) a desperate people-pleaser.
Add in an affinity for science and reading and you are left with one very uncool and awkward teenage Terence.
Then I somehow stumbled into the radio industry, and even though I was still as awkward as ever, I could at least hide behind the pretense of doing cool stuff with cool people. When I became a dad, I hoped I could continue the trend in that world too. I had visions of my kids secretly being proud of having me around, while other parents would look at me and think, “Why can’t I be like him?”
Obviously...that did not happen.
Instead, I discovered that it is impossible to be cool when you are sleep deprived, with vomit slowly staining your last remaining clean t-shirt while you are wiping poo off another human being’s butt. I don’t care who you are - in that moment, you are as uncool as you feel.
So - is it possible to be a cool parent? If you look at celeb parents Instagram accounts, you might say that it is, albeit in an extremely unattainable way. I mean, if you think a cool parent is super-fit, always dressed to the nines, and always seems to be smiling for no reason, then yes, those celebs (and Instagrammers trying to be celebs) definitely make the grade...at least on the surface.
But maybe we’re looking at this whole thing the wrong way. I asked you on Instagram what you thought about “cool parents” - here are some of the responses:
In fact, I wonder if the pursuit of coolness is detrimental to being a good parent. If you think about it, if you are concerned about looking cool, you are really focused on yourself which is kinda diametrically opposed to what a good parent should be doing. How can you prioritise your kids’ needs if you are constantly worried about what people are thinking about you?
So I guess the better question is “What does a cool parent look like?”, and when I really think hard about it, here’s my answer: It’s someone who looks like they have a handle on everything. It’s the parent that knows where his kid’s favourite toy is, or who knows exactly how to manage a tantrum, or who can have a conversation with me while simultaneously feeding one kid, playing with another, and answering the 1000 questions from his oldest.
That is damn cool.
And that is really strange, because for the longest time I thought the best way to be cool was to not try so hard. The coolest people were the ones who were aloof, who just didn’t care what they did or what other people thought of them. I think it’s different for parents...at least it is for me.
I mean, not caring about what other people think about you is still VERY cool, but the coolest parents, really, are the ones who try hard. Every day. They wake up, and do their best to be the parents their kids deserve and need - and be honest, when you see someone getting that right fairly regularly...isn’t that kind of cool?
The catch here is that doing all of that means that your kids will not think you are cool - because the things you have to do to match the criteria above are, very often, the very things that a child will NEVER think is cool.
But hey - we had to wipe their bums, so I really don’t think they should be the ones who judge whether or not we’re cool, am I right?