I love spending solo time with my kids. And I really want them to enjoy spending time with me. We spend lots of time doing stuff together as a family, but I think there’s something special about the ratio being 1:1 (or 1:2) instead of 5:2.
At least once per month I try to take them out to do something– just the two of us. It’s often something simple. Like a trip to Target or Home Depot or out for a taco. But my goal is always to do something a little bigger. Something that’s really special. (When you live in a tourist destination like San Diego, this is actually pretty easy.)
I also try to mix passions in hopes of passing on some of the things I love. My love for college sports was passed on to me by my dad taking me to Notre Dame football, basketball, and hockey games as a kid. So they go with me to San Diego State football and basketball games. And this year we added the San Diego Padres to the mix because they both seem to enjoy baseball.
In March, Paul and I were walking to the SDSU vs. Utah game. The Aztecs were ranked in the top 10 in the country. The game was sold out. And the country was just discovering that Viejas Arena had become the most exciting venue west of the Mississippi. Paul dragged his feet a little as we walked across campus.
“Paul, don’t you want to go to the game? It’s sold out. The Aztecs are awesome this year. And I love sharing this with you.” He got up the courage to tell me the truth. “I really like hanging out with you dad. But we always do things that you love, like sports, and it doesn’t count as a dad date unless it’s something I want to do.”
My 7 year old prophet hit me… Right. Between. The. Eyes.
What do you want to do?
In some ways it seems silly to miss this. But I had a default to want to take my kids along to things I wanted to do. And they picked up that I would have gone to this stuff with or without them, so it didn’t feel as special. While they liked the games they wanted me to come spend time on their turf. They felt loved as we went to games. But they would really feel the love if I’d bypass what I wanted to do for what they wanted to do.
Yesterday was case-in-point as we went to the Pokemon World Championships. (Pictures above) Thousands of people geeked out on Pokemon. They spoke a language of characters I couldn’t comprehend. The card games, the collectables, the people dressed like the characters. I couldn’t have been more out of place.
But my kids? It was a giant “I love you” card for them. They couldn’t believe we actually went. (Paul asked me about it months ago but thought I had forgotten.) I didn’t rush them. I just tried to figure it out. I sat and watched as they played in table tournaments. I got excited when they won. I was disappointed when they lost. We took pictures. We wandered around the hotel to make sure they’d seen everything. I learned the names of some characters.
Parenthood is humbling. There’s times you think you’re winning when you are losing and visa versa. For every miss I’ve had– it felt good to get a win yesterday.