As adults, we pay lip service to seeing the world through kids’ curious, unjaded eyes. And it’s true, that view is lovely. But even better in our opinion is that being with children also means you actually get to be a kid sometimes!
Toting a tot is a great excuse to do loads of silly, fun, adventurous things we’d be too embarrassed—or wouldn’t have the opportunity—to do without one. Asking the mounted officers if you can pet their horses? Kind of weird if you’re alone. But with a kid? Totally normal! Want to ride the spinning tea cups? You’re probably too tall. But with a shorty by your side, you’re good to go.
If you need a reminder of how ridiculously fun (and just ridiculous) parenting, grandparenting, aunt-ing, and uncle-ing can be, we came up with a list of 50 reasons why spending time with kids is a blast—each one of which will make you feel like a kid again in the process.
1. Riding carousels—and putting genuine thought into which pony you should choose—when you’re 40.
2. Trick or treating at Halloween, and the vicarious thrill of wondering who will open the door and what kind of candy they will give (fingers crossed for the top-shelf Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups!).
3. Sliding down the fireman pole at the playground.
4. Catching snippets of the teen shows the kids are watching in the other room and laughing more than you ever do at grown-up sitcoms.
5. BOUNCY. CASTLES.
6. Sucking the helium out of balloons and then singing “Happy Birthday” in your leprechaun voice.
7. Jumping on a trampoline until you almost pee your pants.
8. Gawking at construction sites, because you know you always wanted to see what it looked like 10 feet below the street.
9. Skipping! (Though we think skipping should be the next fitness craze…it’s quite the leg workout.)
10. Chasing after the ice cream truck on a lazy summer evening.
11. Lacing up roller skates for the first time in 20 years and realizing, once you’re out in the rink, that you’ve still got it.
12. Water gun/balloon fights. Why do we stop having these once we grow up?
13. Playing Candy Land and, after all these years, still getting excited when you land on Queen Frostine.
14. Eating the leftover cotton candy!
15. Having an excuse to see all the latest animated kids’ movies.
16. Waiting in line with all the grade-schoolers for the pool slide because your 5-year-old is too scared to go by himself, and then getting nervous when it's your turn.
17. Family sing-alongs in the car, windows down, headed home from dinner.
18. Exploring the inside of your local firehouse on a school trip—and checking out the firetrucks while you’re there.
19. Running through a sprinkler to show the children how it’s done.
20. Jumping off the high dive to prove your bravery to your nephew—and yourself.
21. Finger painting.
22. Chuckling at your ignorance of today's slang—who knew “jello” or “jelly” means “jealous”?
23. Loving to hate Elmo, SpongeBob, and Phineas and Ferb.
24. Enjoying the sidelines camaraderie of fellow sports parents at your kids’/grandkids’ games. It beats chitchatting at a grown-up cocktail party any day.
25. Winding down from preschool—and work—with coloring books, and choosing just the right crayon for Thor’s chest plate (pink, of course).
26. Buying Maroon 5 songs on iTunes “for your kids.”
27. Going to Maroon 5 concerts “for your kids.”
28. Slip’N Slides.
29. Getting your craft on for kiddie holiday parties. Snowflake garlands and personalized goody bags? Yes, please!
30. Jumping in leaf piles with your niece, and picking tiny twigs out of your hair the rest of the day.
31. Harry Potter.
32. Playing again with all the toys you loved as a child: Legos, Barbies, blocks, dolls and action figures.
33. Spending way too much money at a video arcade—on Skee-Ball, Big Buck Hunter, and free throw basketball—because it’s just as thrilling for you as it is for the kiddos to see the machines spit out those long chains of tickets.
34. Swinging at the playground, your baby on your lap, looking up at the sky.
35. Taylor Swift.
36. Stopping with your little one to pet every single dog you pass on the street.
37. Diving for pennies in the pool.
38. Bowling with the bumpers up.
39. Blissing out when your 4-year-old plays “beauty salon” on your hair.
40. Having a backyard game of catch.
41. Living-room dance parties. Children don’t notice that you have zero rhythm.
42. Blowing and popping bubbles. Save some for the kids!
43. Sledding wildly down a huge hill, scared witless, but doing it again (and again) because your tot laughed hysterically the whole way.
44. Helping your child or grandchild open presents after his birthday party. What’d he get, what’d he get?
45. Playing backyard baseball.
46. Jumping rope.
47. Suspending your cynicism to fall in love with Disney World.
48. Scootering, skateboarding and RipStik riding.
49. Checking out the cockpits on every flight.
50. Jumping waves at the beach, holding your child’s sandy hands tightly.
Patty Onderko is a freelance writer based in Brooklyn, NY.