Posted in Parenting

Discovery

Recently I was talking with a friend of mine that was telling me about a study she had read (because she's really smart and savy like that!) that suggested that kids need to have more unplanned play in their lives in order to develop their ability to problem solve and think creatively. And it reminded me to make sure that I'm being more intentional to do that with my son. I feel like I'm a pretty engaged dad but I'm sure there's such a thing as being too engaged. The hovering parent. The parent that books their kids' lives full with activities. The parent that shows their kids how to play. . . .which are not all bad things . . . but are we causing our kids to miss out on an essential element of learning and developing? . . . Discovery.

I can remember when I was younger my mom would cut me lose with my bike and my neighborhood friends and the only instructions she gave me were to be home by a certain time for dinner. She didn't have to come with us. We didn't have a cell phone to check in with. She just told us to make sure we were back home by a certain time. (or in the summer by sunset) Obviously there are some safety issues that jump out to most parents when they hear that but it was a different world back when I was younger and I was always with other friends and my older brother and his friend were usually there too.

We recently took our son to Sea World in San Diego for the first time and we were both excited for all of the awesome things he would get to see! They have so many great shows and attractions but what he loved more than anything was the Elmo-themed kid zone. . . Which makes sense since he's four. It had cargo nets he could climb, bridges high up in the sky that he could run on, slides, rides for younger children, and a spray park to cool off in. He was so excited about the spay park that we just stripped him down to his underwear and let him go! (Good thing it was a really hot day!)

My wife and I are always wanting to give our son great experiences and expose him to all of the opportunities that are out there! . . . But I'm continuing to realize that he doesn't always need us to help him. To plan everything for him. To show him how to play. To make him have the experiences that I think are important. . . . . Sometimes we need to just let him run free and see what he discovers on his own . . . because he'll figure it out on his own! . . . And instead of being told or shown . . . he'll Discover!

 

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Posted in Parenting

Whispering Truths

I love the time my wife Kate and I get to spend with our son every night. . . We have a routine that we religiously run through to wind him down and get him off to sleep. The bath usually starts the night off. . . Once he’s in the tub, Kate and/or I will hang out on the floor or the toilet (with the seat down😉) and listen to his imagination run wild with story after crazy creative story.

 We play made up games with ridiculous rules that we have to follow, like “guessing” the foam numbers or letters that he puts up on the tile wall – ones that we can plainly see. . . we have to look away and give our best guess until we usually get it right around the third or fourth try.

 Eventually, after more stories and games it’s time to wash him and scoop him out… Then we brush his teeth with his special Ninja Turtle toothbrush & toothpaste while telling him stories of how Michelangelo and the rest of the heroes-in-a-half-shell defeated the evil Shredder who was wreaking havoc on his teeth.

 Next up it’s on to the bedroom where the wrestling begins to get his clothes on because all he wants to do is dance, climb on our backs, and run to the toy room to get one more toy to bring to bed with him. . . We’ll read a few books together and, like all kids, he’s always wanting just one more. Now comes the time for him to lie down.

 The lights go off. . . and Kate and I each bust out our freestyle story telling skills, making up stories about anything from dancing Hippos trying to find their favorite ice cream to Rocky the Crocodile who just wants to learn how to surf. . . we pray together. .. .we sing a few songs to him . . . And then we get to my favorite part. And not just my favorite part of the night. . . but my favorite part of my whole day! . . .when I get to just lie down next to my son and whisper truths into his ears. .

 To say things to him like “you are strong” , ” you are gentle” , ” you are my son” , “your mommy and daddy love you” and “I really like you”. In a world where children, and really, most people are told so many negative and untrue messages about themselves, it’s a sweet opportunity to whisper truth into his ears to replace all of the lies of the day.

 I love knowing that the last things he hears as he falls asleep – the things that he will think and dream about – will be the things that I whisper to him.. . The truths of who he is and who he can become. . .and a reminder that he is valued and loved!