Every now and then the association I’m a member of through work holds work-life-balance types of seminars. Healthy eating, investing, doing your taxes, working out, and parenting. Seriously, some of the ones that have come through my inbox have looked pretty lame. I went to one, on parenting, and found myself wondering, “Really? Y’all need someone to tell you this stuff?” I’m no goddess of parenting bliss here, but this was really basic information.
But I tried another one this last week, because of the topic: self esteem. I’m concerned about Cameron’s; not that I think he’s in trouble, just that his life has been set up to challenge him in that respect I sometimes think. And I’m concerned about Kate. She too has some challenges already in place, and she’s a very sensitive girl, who is struggling to find her place in her peer group from what I can see. I’d love to see them both grow up to be confident, secure, marvelous adults.
There weren’t really any surprises in what the speaker, Kathy Lynn, was saying. Much of what she covered I was already familiar with – I found myself thinking a lot of, “yeah, I do that,” or at least, “Yeah, I’m aware of that.” Sometimes it was even, “Oh. Yeah. I do do that … and I do know better.”
The gist of it seemed to be this: your child believes you and places your opinion of them above anyone else’s (yes, even teens, in their own way). They will deduce your opinion of them through the clues that you give them, in how you speak to them, what you say to them, and what you expect from them.
Not exactly news, but worth hearing again and again.
The topic that grabbed me the most though was giving your child some child-centered time with you. Sure, a quick run to the grocery store is one-on-one time. I get lots of time with just me and Cameron, while he’s in the living room playing and I’m in the kitchen making dinner. And while we walk to and from daycare. But these aren’t things /he/ wants to do, and sometimes we’re there in the same room but not together. She then said something along the lines of, “If you’re really spending child-centered time with your kid, you’re going to be really, really, bored.” I nodded. Because there is only so much I can take of gunfire, or of running trains around circles being told when to stop and when to go.
She continued, describing what it’s like to go for a walk with a toddler. It takes twenty minutes to walk a block, because every ant has to be followed!
And here’s where my brain clicked.
I’ve lost it. I’ve lost the adventure in doing things with Cameron. Going places used to be our good time together on weekends, but now I’m all about getting where we’re going and having fun once we’re there, and we’ve got so much to do, come on already let’s hurry up. Isn’t that what I used to write about? The fun and adventure in those twenty minute bug hunts?
So today on the way home (Cameron came to work with me again today), I decided to follow his cue. We weren’t in a hurry. And we started off on Granville Island, a place that he’s come to see as his domain, since he’s there for art class so often sans Mama.
Oh! Mama! I want to show you something, come this way!
This can sometimes drive me nuts. But I remembered … kid-centered one on one time. And happily followed to discover the playground we used to frequent, rain or shine, when we visited Granville Island.
We played in the deserted water park, still months to go before they turn the water back on. Up to look at the slides and chat about the summer, when he’ll be tall enough to go down the yellow one. Tearing off in a game of two-person tag, grabbing spray equipment and pretending to soak each other. Jumping over ‘rivers’ at the low points, and pretending to splash in puddles.
We took the ferry across to the Aquatic Centre, and when Cameron begged me to play on the beach for a little, how could I resist? Sure, I limited the time, but we haven’t been there in forever. We climbed up on rocks to have a look around, then headed for the road.
But on the way was a sculpture, a ‘shell’ of a person sitting – I think with his or her knees up, arms curled around, but that could be my imagination – of letters from many languages. You could go inside, and Cameron climbed on it, naming those he recognized, asking me about others. Most I had to admit I did not know, unless they were Greek. Oh, and I recognized the Chinese character for forest in there.
Finally, it was time to go home. We spent the evening cuddled together watching his new movie, then putting together his new playmobile mini-submersible toy.
And it felt good. We did lots that Cameron wanted to do, without going overboard. We still did what we needed to get done. We enjoyed old places we used to have fun at, and explored something new. We still made it home in decent time. If we really couldn’t do something, I said no – and oh, he did test to see how far he could push things! He wanted to go to Science World, he wanted to take the ferry to the Maritime Museum, he wanted to go to the playground in Stanley Park. These things I said no to. But we did have some awesome time, in short spurts, playing, exploring, and adventuring.
(Pictures will come, of course. But it’s midnight! How did that happen?)