Spending time together as a family is undeniably the thing I enjoy most in my life these days. It doesn’t matter so much what we’re doing, it’s that we’re doing ‘whatever’ together that brings me happiness. There are highs and lows, of course; cuddled on a couch watching a movie? That’s a high. Driving infinitely long distances with two kids screaming at one another in the back about who stole whose shoe first? Maybe not so much; and from this I’m sure you can appreciate without me offering more examples, just what I mean by time spent together. We explore, we adventure, we laugh and we play; we’re a good group and generally get along swimmingly. Every now and again, however, comes a time when each parent and child combination will get some one on one time together, and maybe it’s because these times are rare, or maybe it’s because it’s slightly quieter, whatever the reason: these occasions are particularly special and I am loving that we get to enjoy a few extra of these events throughout the summer months.
What’s most fascinating when it comes to gallivanting about with just one child at your side, is how differently their personalities shine through. They’re calmer, quieter, more prone to conversation, and more engaged in the present moment. Presumably this is because there is no competition around vying for attention or arguing to get things ‘their way’, which I can appreciate even as an adult. While that sense of calm when alone is something both of my children share in common, what I find even more fascinating is that, when spending this one on one time together, I get to see their individual personalities shine even brighter. As connected and similar as these kids may be, each is enjoying their way through life in some very unique ways, and it’s in these moments and times that I get to observe it most.
One kid is a reader, devouring book after book, waking in the morning, crawling into bed next to me with her newest haul from the library, reading peacefully and quietly beside me as I type out a blog. She is a child of words and we are connected through that passion, albeit in different ways. My other child, waking early and getting her soundtrack going first thing, as she bounces about her room, playing with her toys for a bit before emerging and asking if she can play Zelda for a while; at least until breakfast is ready. Music, puzzles, toys and games connect her and I in a bond equally as strong as words and language, just in a different way. It’s amazing how much they are like me, and their mother, but still so independently unique. But, I guess that’s people as a whole – we all share commonalities, be it sports, nature, and the air we breathe, yet we are all still so beautiful in our own individual ways.
Apart from the day to day routine moments we find together, the real fun happens when we get to plan special and dedicated outings together. Audrey and I, for example, went to the Elora Mill for a fancy Daddy-Daughter dinner not so long ago. For her, she knew this was a special event, as we jointly make the phone call to make reservations, got ourselves dressed up, and she shared with anyone we passed on our walk along the way that she was headed to a fancy dinner with her dad. For me, I walked into that restaurant, prouder and happier than I’ve ever been to be able to share this special time with my daughter in conversation over good food and her ear to ear smile. The experience would have been wonderful as a family, I won’t deny that, but I also won’t deny that it likely would have come with some argument over who gets to sit beside who and a few eye rolls from surrounding tables. Instead all we received from our neighbouring diners were looks of adoration and jealousy; yeah- 10 points for Dad! Of course to make things equal and ‘fair’. Nora, too, got ot enjoy a fancy dinner with her Mom.
Nora, on the other hand got to enjoy a day at the beach with Mom; a full day of floating on the lake, climbing tall tress, and reading in the shade. Once again, she knew this was a special event for her, and she made sure to relish the lead up and everything that it meant to bathe in the full attention of her loving Mother. The build up to this event inevitably came with some jealously from her sister, and I will fully admit that receiving the pictures she sent of their adventures throughout the day, while I say behind my desk at work, also brought on feelings of jealously within myself, but those feelings were nothing compared to being how happy and proud she was in those images. This was her time, with her Mom, and they were doing the things only they wanted to do. Yeah – 10 points for Mom! Audrey and I have a beach day planned soon,,,
There are of course countless other examples of time in which we dedicate days, hours and moments to one on one time. Whether it’s in a canoe, at a park, our 10K bike rides, on a walk downtown, or heading to the movies, dedicated time together is a conscious effort in the Bean family household. Sometimes it happens naturally and without planning, but we really try do this very purposefully and with some extra grandeur. Not that it always has to be an expensive meal out on the town, it can be free face-painting before a pizza slice in the park, or walk down to the river with a few snacks in our backpack. However we spend these times, the part I enjoy most is getting to see and learn more about my kids as they exist in their own skin. They’re rather interesting individuals, with ideas, and thoughts, fears, wants, desires and passions of their own, and I’ll take any opportunity I can to take all of that in.