This was supposed to be a piece about lessons learned as a dad in the nine years that separated the births of my oldest daughter and my youngest son.
I had points to make about second chances to get things right. Opportunities I surely wouldn’t miss the second time around. Overreactions and blowups that wouldn’t repeat themselves.
One thing is certain. With older siblings aged 18, 16, and 15, I have become very comfortable in my role as a dad with 8 year-old Kal. I have relaxed more and simply enjoyed the moments of being his dad. There is peace that comes from experience as a parent and a maturing trust in God.
But a funny thing happened on my way to writing about lessons learned by a veteran dad. I learned another big lesson.
Kal accidentally let me know that he probably hasn’t enjoyed me as a dad as much as his brother and sisters have. Sure, my role as a father isn’t to just have fun and be the good guy all the time. The balance between rules and relationships is a delicate one that parents should not neglect maintaining.
But when parents try to maximize quality time and quantity time together with their kids in the middle of busy schedules, moments of simply enjoying one another’s company need to be actively sought.
What was my offense?
Simply forgetting history and failing to get a clear picture of the present.
Words innocently spoken by my son, “Dad you remember that ONE time you played Wii U with me? That was really fun”. Not too bad on the surface, but underneath it smells really bad.
Today’s kids prefer apps on Ipods over console games. Why is this even important?
Because I spent enormous amounts of what would be classified as “quantity time” with my three older kids when they were ages 5-12 just goofing off playing Nintendo64, Gamecube, and Wii.
TOGETHER, we conquered Zelda, Lego Star Wars (3 editions), Mario, Smash Brothers, and Animal Crossing. And yes, there were countless hours spent hammering out music TOGETHER on 5 versions of Guitar Hero and Rock Band.
Looking back, what I thought was quantity time turned out to be time of the highest quality with my kids. Times when our worlds came together easily. Those moments aren’t easy to come by as they get older.
Just to set the record straight, I despise having kids stay in a room alone to play video games or playing inside instead of outside.
Be aware of too many precious hours spent “doing your thing” while your kids are doing theirs. And be aware of taking the easy way out as a parent simply because older siblings “occupy” younger siblings time so well at times.
We only have so many days and so many hours to influence our children and the direction their lives take. We must be in their presence, in both mind and body, to have a meaningful impact.
Realize that times change. Parents spend too much time with a laptop or cellphone in their line of vision. Kids spend too much time occupying themselves with Ipods and Ipads.
Get your kids in your line of vision. And look at the same things they’re looking at.
I just need to convince Kal that I actually can play games with him. Apparently he’d made some efforts for me to join him and was left with the impression that I was an incompetent gamer. I guess I told him to ask his brother to be his partner or for answers way too many times.
I spent too much time trying to come up with BIG quality time adventures that he wasn’t interested in.
Kal just wanted to play WiiU with his dad. Those were great times for him. He told me so.
Bring your worlds together while you can.
Time together IS quality time.