My 9-year-old son Ibrahim loves being home from school for the summer. For about five minutes. After that, the complaints and requests start. I know he’s not purposely trying to be a pest. He’s just giving me a kid-signal: spend time with me!
“Can you make me a snack? What’s for lunch? Why can’t my friend come over? What do you mean I’m banned from video games because I didn’t make my bed or fold my laundry or pick up after myself? I don’t want to read a book instead!”
Couples are often encouraged to schedule regular “date nights” to spend alone time and reconnect. Over the years I’ve realized spending one-on-one time with your kid is a similar long-term investment in an important relationship. What this looks like has changed over the years.
Kyle D. Pruett writes in Psychology Today: “Time to ‘chill’ (one on one) is often better understood by our kids than it is by us, and they are often better at it. But you have to be there, with them, devices off for it to work their magic on both of you.”
Now that Mustafa, my 12-year-old, is older, he is more adept at keeping himself amused. I peek over his shoulder as he watches magic tricks on YouTube. He has a pile of books on his night table — Calvin and Hobbes, Big Nate, Diary of a Wimpy Kid — all classics reread on rotation, as well as some new titles.
He’s beyond the age of looking to me for entertainment; I am relegated to the provider of food and guardian of his free time, and he sends applications for my approval on a regular basis: “Can I walk to the convenience store with my friends?” Nope. “Can I eat a bag of cookies for lunch?” Nice try. “Can I play basketball on the driveway?” Now we’re talking.
It was easier to subtly introduce one-on-one time when my kids were younger, more portable and still thought I was cool. Now it takes more effort on my part, though it seems to come easier for my husband, who plays video games with Mustafa and completes puzzles with Ibrahim.
The best conversations still happen when I am driving one of them somewhere. Cocooned (they might say trapped) in the car, we talk about Life, the Universe and Everything (#DouglasAdams) with no real agenda.
– Uzma Jalauddin
Photo Source – Flickr