Parenting Like A Chimpanzee

Julia Arnold Elementary School

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One thing I learned from watching chimpanzees with their infants is that having a child should be fun.

– Jane Goodall

I love this quote. In the daily trials of raising children – the schedules, the seemingly constant meal prep and clean-up, the school pick-ups and drop-offs, the tantrums, the bedtime routines – all of it, Goodall's straightforward message is all too easy to forget.

The best moments I have had as a mother have been when I have let everything else slide, and just let myself have fun with my children.

I was reminded of Goodall's quote recently.

My son had been asking for two weeks – two weeks, practically two years to a child – to play a game he learned at camp called “Drip Drip Drop.” He explained that it involved water and sponges, and lots of chasing and hollering (basically, Duck Duck Goose using water, and instead of a head pat at “goose,” you squeeze the sponge above your target's unsuspecting head to really soak them).

Ugh. The game sounded hard in that time-consuming, tiring, getting wet and then changing into dry clothes kind of way. I kept putting him off.

Then I was at Target and saw those big plastic baby pools were on sale for 3 dollars. It was time. When I lugged it out of my car, my children's innocent joy and happiness at the prospect of getting soaked was worth much more than 3 measly dollars.

Immediately my hopeful son exclaimed, “Now we can play Drip Drip Drop!” I sighed inwardly. I didn't feel like getting wet, and with only the three of us playing, I was an integral part of the scenario. I also knew they would be ravenous soon and I needed to put some fish sticks in the oven now.

They were so excited that I couldn't put it off anymore. We ran outside and filled the pool up with cold water from the hose. My son and daughter grabbed their sponges and soaked up as much of that freezing water as they could. I shuddered inwardly but smiled through gritted teeth.

My daughter and I squatted down in the grass while my son started slowly, deliberately circled around us with the dripping sponge.




He squeezed the heck out of that pink kitchen sponge and doused my entire head with the cold water. I screamed from the shock of it and stood up to chase him.

We could not stop laughing.

We were running and laughing and yelling in that singular carefree, out-of-breath childhood way. The way grown-ups rarely get around to.

The three of us played that much-anticipated game until my daughter had stripped her clothes off, my son was getting a little too aggressive with his sponge, and I couldn't put off making dinner anymore.

Jane Goodall is so very right. What on earth is the point of having all these messy, funny, active, challenging children if it isn't at least sometimes just completely and ridiculously fun?


About the Author

Julia Arnold

Julia Arnold is a mom of two young kids living in the Twin Cities who is still coming to terms with the fact that her counters are always sticky, and her floor is never clean. She writes about the less glamorous side of new motherhood on her blog .

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