36 hours later, I realized what my daughter was actually saying, what our tax convo truly meant. And it didn’t bode well for my birthday-party-free weekends. All of the fun activities and field trips, the quality time, and the stimulating environment I had done my best to provide for her wasn’t for nothing, after all. She doesn’t remember half of it (despite an annoying amount of photos) because 1. she’s six, and (this is important) 2. it has gradually become her norm. Reality check: Kids will take for granted, to a degree, what they consider “the norm” — well, we all do.
Her “tax experience,” on the other hand, was contrary to her norm — it was quite abnormal. For her, then five years old, to sit still and silent in an office and witness the tax process for an hour and a half was a complete departure of what she was accustomed to. I believe that’s why it stuck out in her mind.
Big picture: All the little things (and big things) we do for our children add up to their childhood. And whatever becomes our children’s norm growing up will become their comfort zone in adulthood.
That’s the delayed light bulb moment I got from a silly convo with my kid on the way to “the green box place.” And I can live with that — the not sleeping in until she goes to college 11.5 years from now and the 104 birthday parties out of 52 weekends a year. But I just might take her with me annually to witness tax season as a reminder that her norm, her childhood, is damn good and should not be taken for granted. So far I haven’t had to mention the lobby in “the green box place” has drab, little toys year-round.