Having a little break from daily parental duties during the summer offered me the opportunity to catch up on reflective time and me time.
One of the realizations that slowly came to fruition over my time off was that I can be doing a much better job in many facets of daddydom.
An area in particular is engaging my daughter more in conversation. Real, meaningful conversation. Last night alone she initiated the topics of foreign made toy recalls, Mine rescue operation procedures and hurricane destruction zones (obviously the news was on).
By nature I am not as chatty as you might otherwise think by having simply read my blog. In real life I tend to be more on the quiet side. And that is true at home as well. Therefor, in the past, I have tended to give, albeit real and honest, answers more on the abbreviated side.
That needs to change. If I am truly concerned about the social and intellectual development of my child I should be continuing these conversations more. Asking follow questions, using analogies, including stories from my youth if applicable.
Furthermore, I need to create an atmosphere where her presence is not so much background to other things going on around the house, but more of an integral part of it.
'Interaction', I guess, is the key word here. I am elated that her inquisitive mind is coupled with a desire to engage in a socially mature way. But I need to put a great deal more effort in taking advantage of such a mindset and the opportunities that present themselves.
Yesterday, I did make a noble effort at providing the best answers I could when she asked about how to handle an annoying 'friend' in a compassionate way. I knew as she was talking that this was the exact kind of situation I had made a commitment to being more thorough. So instead of a 2 minute answer as I was focusing on cooking, I put the pots and pans on hold and sat down to ask some follow up questions and role play for a minute.
"It's alot easier saying this to your daddy pretending to be your friend than saying it to your real friend."
"That is true! But you did it just fine, and that's what practice is for. Let's do it a few more times."
"Did you ever have to say something like this to a friend when you were little?"
"No. But I wasn't as nice and considerate as you are. I should have taken the time to say it but instead I would just say 'I don't want to play with you'. What you're doing is much nicer and you should be proud."
Hopefully I'll be able to make a habit of this more engaging interaction. I guess I fear turning around tomorrow and seeing my child turning 25 and having missed all of these grande opportunities to teach the really important things in life. I think too often we assume lessons of patience, compassion, bravery and rational thought are somehow inadvertently taught by our surroundings and we need do little to help such lessons along.
But my observation tells me that impatience, selfishness, fear and illogical speculation are really what society at large is waiting to teach our children and it is our job as parents to counter that at a ratio of at least 2:1.
So I shall make the stronger effort henceforth.