Relationships should always outweigh agendas.
Did anyone see this past week’s” Homeschool Minute,” the weekly e-newsletter from the Old Schoolhouse? Normally, because of the amount of time I spend on the computer with work-related tasks, I rarely get on to read articles, to subscribe to more information and announcements, etc. I skim. I actually deleted the newsletter entitled “Dating Your Kids,” associating the word date with spending money. Yet, I’ll confess that I’ve been thinking a lot along these lines since I took the girls to the birthday tea party, so I thought to take a gander before that particular piece hit the recycle bin.
Thankfully, I was wrong about the spending portion. The title was misleading; what the article centered on was making each of your children feel special. Again, I remembered what a special girl time we had at the youngest’s birthday party. Of course, the five-year-old was all “dolled up” and enjoying her friends, but the oldest and I got to sit and talk over tea, laughing with other parents, but also focusing in on each other as ladies. As an aside, I’ve noticed something over the years that our children have danced. During the earlier part of the evening, when the smaller kids take classes, there is almost no room in the parking lot. There is a wait to drop off your child, and of course at that age, you can’t just “drop them off;” there are shoes to help get on and off, and checks to be sure that all is well emotionally as well as logistically. However, by the time the kids are pre-teens, they are literally “dropped off.” I think sometimes the parents leave skid marks getting away from the dance center for some free time! There are no cars in the lot (unless the student can drive herself), and you’d almost think the center was closed if you didn’t know better. I was sharing with another parent that, at that age, you think that your kids really don’t need you anymore, and you relish the time to claim a moment of selfish indulgence. The reality is that kids need you even more when they are older, although in very different ways. My superhero normally takes the kids to and from dance; after spending the day with them in school, I, too, look forward to some down time. But every now and then, the oldest will say, “Mom, are you coming to watch me today?” She’s helping teach this year, and sometimes there’s even a request for me to come to that class—she wants me to watch her instruct others. When I don’t go, I still get the weekly report of what each child did and did not do.
My husband had a similar experience with our son in the last couple of weeks. Our sister-in-law called at the last minute to invite our son to our nephew’s birthday party. Feeling all the rejection of the kid who got picked last to join in the playground fun, I had convinced my husband not to go. He, however, focused in on the fact that it was a fun time at someone else’s expense, and our son focused in on the opportunity to play laser tag—an experience he’d yet to have. So, off they went, and thankfully they didn’t listen to me. Our son didn’t spend much time with the other boys; he wanted to play with his dad. The superhero told me later that, on several occasions, our son would ask him, “Are you having fun, Dad?” It meant everything to him that he got to enjoy a boy-like moment with his favorite big kid. Our nephew’s birthday is also Valentine’s Day, so the party made our night pretty late, but I know that those were memories our son will cherish forever, and it will shape who he becomes as a father.
I once heard an evangelist say that, in marriage, women need as many as 17 non-sexual touches each day. I don’t know that children need quite as much affirmation, but the authors talked about something as simple as a hug can make a child feel special. So as I’m beginning to put together next year (we’ve only got 11-12 weeks of school left—WOW!), I’m reminded, yet again, how important setting the stage for learning truly is. Books are only a tool; in fact, as I pare down, I think we’ll buy fewer packaged programs than I’ve bought in a while (more on that later). I’ve been envisioning next year, and this is what I see: continued hugs, kisses, and “high fives” for the youngest as she’ll tough out that continuously steep learning curve in 1st grade; more 1-on-1 with our son, who’s been on his own much of this year (although recently he’s taken an interest in helping Mom cook, and I let him, no matter how much it slows me down); and laying on the oldest’s back while we read together. I’m still fleshing out details on books, lesson plans, and making final (HA HA) choices on curriculum, but this is the foundation from which we’ll build. I won’t commit to the tea parties and laser tags just yet, but I am making a point to meet each child where he/she is, and make sure each one gets his/her time in his/her way. In fact, next weekend, after our son’s 1st jazz dance competition, I’ll head out with the youngest and plant the sweet peas that former blogger and dear friend KeriMae sent to me (Thanks!).
God bless you. By the way, have you made each kid (or at least one of the kids) feel special today?