Walking through a shopping mall today with my two boys, I just stopped in my tracks and peered into a Claire’s store. After staring into the haven of trinkets for young girls for just a few seconds, I sped ahead to catch up with the boys.
“I kind of miss going into Claire’s on every mall trip with your sisters.”
Macy and Maddie are 18 & 20 now. Maddie is away at college five hours to the northeast. Her sister is four hours to the south, graduating from college in April and preparing for a wedding in September.
But in those few seconds in front of Claire’s, I was taken back in time. Following two little bright-eyed girls around the displays, patiently waiting while they chose their treasures of the day. Bracelets, earrings, Hello Kitty wallets, wooden jewelry bins covered in butterflies.
“Thank you daddy!”
Somewhere in another part of the mall, their mother would have been searching for a new Power Rangers action figure for an energetic and excited little brother.
Somehow, quite a few Power Rangers action figures have survived the passage of time and remain stored in assorted bins around our home. I’m sure that few items remain from the trips to Claire’s. Simple memories stick around though.
Our trip to the mall today was just an effort to get out of the house. Doing something just for the sake of doing something together. That something turned out to be the new Power Rangers movie. So we met up with my wife and a friend to watch it together (I don’t think Power Rangers was their first movie choice…….or second). I had these strange thoughts as the movie progressed:
“I’m not one to enjoy or waste my time with mindless entertainment, but I’m loving this movie (and I have this sinking feeling that I am the only one of our five that doesn’t think this movie is horrible).”
Kal is 11 and the family movie critic. He loved it and his 17 year-old brother did too. Their mother even loved it. But for me it was more than a movie. It was a trip down memory lane. Jumping up to run around the room to loudly sing the Power Rangers Dino Thunder theme song to the dismay of my whole family. Driving around the state for our girls travel soccer games with a flip down TV monitor displaying a Power Rangers marathon for all in the back seats (the girls wouldn’t admit it, but they couldn’t help watching too).
So tonight, stuck in a strange mood, and missing our girls, I’m just thankful for happy memories of little things. Thankful that I have memories that make me smile instead of regrets that bring sorrow.
For parents, when the time comes when our kids are no longer under our roofs, some things just seem to come into clearer view. What we did well. Where we came up short. I won’t talk about what an amazing mother my wife is, because that’s just a foregone conclusion. But I will share some truth about little things that dads can do to have an amazing impact on the lives of their children.
- Be physically present. Our kids should never entertain the idea that they are less important than our jobs, our golf game, our fishing trips, or our workout schedule. Don’t underestimate the value (when schedules allow it) of being there when they wake up or go to bed, along with the value of attending as many school functions, recitals, and sporting events as possible.
- Be mentally present. Look your kids in the eye when they speak and listen as if it’s the most important thing that’s ever been spoken. Get your nose out of your smartphone or laptop and interact with your kids. You only get one chance to raise your kids, don’t miss it (no regrets).
- Be emotionally present. Most of the time, guys aren’t exactly gifted in the area of saying the right thing (especially when our daughters become teenagers). But thankfully, frequent hugs and pats on the shoulder are a valuable and acceptable substitute.
- Choose your words wisely. Kids are guided less by the instructions that we give them than they are by the manner in which we speak to and about others. The way we speak to and about their mother (even if she’s not your wife) is so vital.
5. Make memories. Doesn’t have to be an expensive trip or adventure. It just has to be a shared experience. Shared experiences build relationships. Kids need good relationships with their dads. Watch a ballgame. Go grocery shopping. Go fishing. Play video games or board games. Read books to your little ones.
Just be there. When I read stories of American cities with annual homicides over 800 and shootings over 3,600 it makes me wonder………………
No, I’m not wondering if we have too many guns or what our government can do to swing things in the other direction. I’m wondering how many of these shooters spent time in Claire’s with their dad and how many of their dads can name more than one Power Rangers series (Dino Thunder was my favorite). Probably not too many.
It’s pretty simple stuff. Hey dads, your kids need you. Be the best dad you can be. Start today…………maybe with a simple prayer,
“Lord, help me to be the best daddy I can be, and guide me to raise this child in a way that’s pleasing to You.”
I’ll bet you can change the world!