If only I can WAKE UP sometimes, connecting with my kids is much easier than I realize.
A story for you: Last night I had to take my toddler out to get a can of gas to bring my husband – so, not a super thrilling adventure.
I’m busy being in my head thinking about:
Did I fill the can right?
Is it getting gas on the car floor?
I feel bad that she’s eating frozen peas for dinner.
And my three year old is in the back seat, trying to get my attention. She’s asking about what we’re doing (which, you know, isn’t some exciting chat: trying to explain “gas can” to a three year old.) Can’t she see I’m busy worrying about the gas can and the peas!?
Wait, let me back up and explain…I think that lots of times finding your chance to connect is about waking up and realizing you’re in a moment where you have that chance. It’s about becoming present in the unexpected moments you have together.
You don’t always get to choose when you can connect with your kids. Sometimes, for instance it means you get to talk about gas cans.
So there I am, sitting in the car giving some long winded talk about how cars ‘go’ when I realized it – this isn’t a boring and inconvenient errand to her. SHE is NOT focused on “poor me I’m eating frozen peas.” She is genuinely interested in what that big red container is, and what we we’re doing. Now is my chance to connect. Just a simple shift in my attitude and I can join her on this interesting adventure she’s having instead of staying distanced from her in my own worried thoughts.
Connection isn’t only about when it’s convenient and special. It’s about realizing that, who knows, frozen peas and gas cans might be a touchstone moment she remembers fondly for the rest of her life.
If I am willing to wake up and be present for her, if I am willing to show her that I value her experience and explain the boring details like ‘what is a gas can?’ I might just get the privilege of going on an unexpected adventure with my daughter.
Have you ever had one of those moments when you notice that your own expectations of what “connecting with kids” looks like is getting in the way of really connecting with your kids?