It's only five minutes of your time...
|Building good memories with your kids doesn't have to be expensive. It doesn't require lavish trips to DisneyWorld, or spending money hand over foot on toys and junk that will be broken in two weeks.
I think it's the positive, little everyday things that they will remember the most.
The way you drop what you're doing when they call out, "Dad, you wanna see something?" or "Dad, check this out." It only takes a few minutes to see what they're up to. The TV can wait.
Those weekends that you make grilled cheeses for the entire family. It's not anything more than bread, butter and cheese, but hey- Dad made it!
The way you get your lazy butt up off the couch when they need a ride somewhere. Would you rather they hang around the house griping and moaning at you?
The way you listen and engage! yourself in the things that they want to talk about. It doesn't hurt to bring your adult intellect down to their level and try to relate does it? We were all their ages at one time. Is it so hard to remember?
The way you are careful with the words that you use with them so you don't hurt their feelings. (I suck at this, but I keep reminding myself to watch it!)
Good memories don't have to be only about all the neat places you went and things you did together. I'm trying to lay the foundation now for good memories with my kids. And I'm trying to do it with the simple things in life.
I hope my son Zach will remember the fun times we had traveling back and forth together to the orthopedic doctor, and how we stopped at Subway after each appointment for giant meatball sandwiches loaded to the hilt. I hope he looks back one day and recalls all the times that he and I played guitars together in the garage, and how I am always willing to listen to a new song he wrote, or a new blazing guitar lick he learned. I hope he'll remember me at the kitchen table, helping him with homework that even I didn't understand and getting through it! I hope he will not forget all the times that I sat on the front porch and watched him doing skateboard tricks in the driveway. And I hope the fact that I sometimes let him have coffee in the morning does not come back to haunt me.
I hope my daughter Stephanie will remember all the toys and games and stuff that I fixed for her. I hope she won't forget all the endless hours of multiplication flash cards and spelling tests and school projects that I helped her with. How could she possibly forget that? I hope she recalls our talks about art and music, which she initiates with me all the time. I hope she'll also remember all those millions of breakfast muffins that I've made for her over the years, even though lately, nobody wants to eat breakfast in my house. Most of all, I hope she will fondly recall the nicknames I call her (a different one each night) when we tuck her into bed.
Last night it was "speedbump".
As in, "G'night .... speedbump."
Good Lord, I've called her everything under the sun by now.
Stepharoni, Stepharonious, Roni, periwinkle, peanut, skippy, doodle bug, bubble-iscious, McGillicuddy, snorkle-lips, stinkbug, rooty-tooty, scooby-doo, miss-thang, dingleberry, snuggle-fish...
Those are just some of the ones I remember. There are tons more, each one different than the one before. She seems amazed that I have a new nickname for her every night and a seemingly endless supply of them waiting in the wings. So far, I haven't really had to struggle with coming up with new ones. Somehow, something new always manages to pop into my head at the last minute.
It IS starting to get harder, though I'll keep it up as long as I can. Because, when she is 20 years old, she might happen to look back fondly on this time in her life, and remember that her Dad always had a new nickname for her at bed time...
Maybe then she won't dwell so much on the fact that I also ride her butt relentlessly in the evenings because she isn't doing her homework like she's supposed to be.
Who knows which fragments of memories become trapped in kids' heads and for what reasons they stay there? All I know is, in the end, it's the simple things in life are the most appreciated. I don't care if you take the family to Cancun every summer and Alpine skiing every winter, or not. I'm convinced that these things may not mean enough. It's the simple things that matter. The little sacrificial things, like five minutes of your time.
They grow up pretty fast... and the clock's ticking on us parents.