Tuesday, August 2, 2016

One-on-One: Making the most of the moments

A few years ago I found myself in 'parenting' conversation with a stranger. Her children were older than mine by about 10 years and she was telling me about The 12-Year Trip.  She and her husband took each child, at age 12, on a vacation of their choosing.  Beyond the fabulousness of being able to pay for that (cha-ching!), I found myself thinking of all the great places my little ones may choose.  My husband, the realist, decided that was a little extravagant for our family.  "Besides if we have money to do that let's just take a trip alone". Which we did (read about it here). And it was awesome.

I didn't, however, forget the notion of The 12-Year Trip, and when I found out that a trip to Las Vegas was going to be necessary for my son's soccer team I admit I was probably as excited as he was.  Although it has been a pretty good year for us, the idea of getting him to myself for three nights was really attractive.  I generally attend all his games, but I usually have his sisters (and sometime brother too) on the sidelines. The idea of a weekend 1:1 interspersed with soccer and food and some Las Vegas shenanigans was pretty cool.

Seriously who looks more excited?
One-on-one all my kids are fabulous, but as a crowd they can be a little much at times even for their mother. Just sayin' what we all feel. As a family we do what we can to steal away 1:1 time with the kids. My husband does daddy dates with the girls.  He also coaches JR's team now and they get lots of time away together.  He drives the carpool for Anthony's team giving him a chance to debrief each week as well.

I take lunch to the kids at school once a week. Their lunch times are back-to-back and I can sit at their table, share the meal and chat with them and their buddies.  If we want we can take the meal outside and sit alone which we do about 1/2 the time.

When Anthony left our parish school and started attending the local charter school, I lost my lunch time with him. We still have plenty of time together in the car, but often he is doing homework and his sisters are almost always around. He is up later than his siblings so we still get more time alone with him, but I am usually exhausted then.  As he grows physically in stature I am faced with a a physical reminder of the reality that my time with him is limited.  I feel as though I am going to blink and the next thing I know I will be packing his bags for college.

With this in mind, his soccer trip became OUR soccer trip and I planned out some great fun for the two of us.  We ate at the buffet, he rode his first roller coaster, he played soccer, rested, played more soccer and ate more fabulous food. We were able to do what we wanted without negotiating the desires of four other people and I was able to appreciate a kick-back attitude that I rarely notice at home.  As the eldest he is full of opinions on how we parents his siblings and we were able to talk those through just the two of us. I pushed him though his fear and made him ride his first REAL roller-coaster.  We found an amazing patio overlooking the strip for our last dinner in town and we had a wonderful meal with his coach's family.  I goofed up on directions (I zigged when we should have zagged) and we wandered and wondered and just had fun together.  For the first time, my son really experienced a real vacation- not just a family trip.

Taking him on this trip solidified something between us.  He is on my side now in a really cool way and I am appreciating it as long as it lasts.  Our time together let him see my humanity in a way that I don't think he sees often enough at home.  At home I am the cook, the cleaner (sometimes), the taxi driver, the shopper, the babysitter... I fill a number of roles and responsibility. This trip gave him a chance to see me aside from all of those roles and I was just me. I laughed, I loved, I supported, I ate, I wandered, I was easygoing. I didn't have to wipe noses or cut up food or worry about nap times or doctor appointment.  I could have a glass of wine and watch a football game with my son and just hang out. I could venture out for a morning cup of coffee and to his delight bring back a bagel for him to nosh on in bed.

One-on-one time with your growing ones is a beautiful gift.  As they get older that 1:1 time becomes ever more important because they are able to pay attention to who you actually are when you are not being pulled in 100 different directions.  Being a middle-child, I don't remember getting good 1:1 time with my parents until I got married, had a child, and moved away. They came to visit and it really was the first time I had more than a few hours alone with them. I cherish those days we had together and I hope Anthony remembers this trip and all of our special moments together.

How can you carve our special moments with each child? What special memories do you have of 1:1 time with your parents?

Thanks for stopping by!

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