Child: “Hey Daddy! Wanna play hide and go sneak?”
Father (Thinking to himself): “Um . . . No, not really. I have been at work all day and all I really want to do is sit down, watch the news and catch a few innings of the baseball game.”
Father (In reality): “Of course! I was hoping to get to do that tonight!” (At what age do you think kids start to understand sarcasm?)
Maybe you are a better father than me. Maybe you never had the the kinds of thoughts that popped in my head from time to time when my children were young. But, I was always pretty sure that I know where my child was going to hide — under the bed — again. Just like the last time we played. And the time before that.
But here is where I get to make a choice. Will I choose to make this about me? Or about my child? And from whose perspective will I view this request.
I needed to view this from my child’s eyes, not just my own eyes. Remember, I am pretty sure I know where my child will hide. But in reality and from their perspective, hiding under the bed is an incredibly spontaneous and brilliant idea to them. And for me to spend my evening looking all over the house and asking out loud in every room but their bedroom as a last resort, “Are you in HERE? No. Are you in HERE? No. Are you under the bed? (Pause for dramatic effect) There you are!
As fathers we sometimes like to take the cop out approach and claim that we are spending quality time with our child and not quantity time. Really? How do you do that? I am not sure. But, this much I know, if you spend a lot of time with your child, some of it is bound to be quality time. If you don’t spend a lot of time with them, your chances of what little you do spend actually being quality time is diminished. And remember, you have never heard a child say that they wanted quality time with Daddy, have you?
Father’s Day is just around the corner. Reach out to your father this week and tell him how much he means to you. And, if you are a dad, be there for your children and enjoy these fleeting days. My 28 year old and 25 year old grown and married children don’t ask me to play “Hide and Go Sneak” very often anymore. I am sure glad we did stuff like that when they were much younger.
Cue Harry Chapin and “The Cat’s in the Cradle” music in the background as we fade to black . . .