On Friday evening, my big eight-year-old son took me on a dinner date. It was at Daddy's gentle suggestion, but John did all the nervous asking and hosting of the outing. He took me to Olive Garden, to which the thrifty boy had a gift certificate, and he paid for the remainder with his debit card, which I let him carry in his pocket for this event. (Did you know when you open a child's bank account nowadays, instead of receiving the little paper tracking books we received as children, the child receives a debit card? Makes sense in this modern world.)
After a number of silly photos . . .
|Always a jokester|
. . . we got one handsome picture.
|But still a handsome guy|
I don't go on many errands so I don't get those opportunities for taking one child along for one-on-one time. I find it is a real challenge for Mama to leave Home Base, where I am simultaneously supervising one child practicing violin, cooking a meal, pausing to change a diaper, planning our meals for the week on the white board, and cleaning the kitchen. (And forget the whole first year of having a baby when I'm nursing my babies-who-don't-use-pacifiers every half an hour.) A husband just can't step into those shoes, so I find it so much easier to ask him to dash to Trader Joe's for these six items: he does that and has many opportunities to take along one child for special time. It's gotten so that he does most of our errands out of the home.
I hardly knew what to do with myself having just one child in my presence--and an older child with whom it is pleasant to interact! When I got to go two hours without making one behavioral correction, it left me reflecting how my voice is generally spewing corrections (which are getting more and more sharp and nasty) daily from waking till bedtime. Does a minute go by without my correcting somebody's behavior? Not too often. And that just plain isn't cheerful to be around! Giving and receiving so many corrections makes all of us crabby.
But I can't just remain silent about needed corrections times four kids--so what's a Mama to do? I don't know the answer. I do know that regular doses of one-on-one time with each child would seriously build camaraderie between us and that might spill over to more goodwill on the home front.
What do you do, Reader, to get one-on-one time within a large family? Especially one in which there are as yet no built-in babysitters (teenagers) and there are many small children who still need much civilizing?
(N.B. I'm 25 weeks' along now. Three people independently have already commented, "You must be due any day now!" I've tried to spare their dignity and reply cheerfully, "Oh, I have a while to go yet." But no, they each persisted in their folly: "Really?! When are you due?" "Let's see . . . about fifteen weeks from now." And then the poor blokes have nothing to say. I will try not to spend much time crying over my beach ball self and instead consider myself an ambassador for teaching through those awkward moments the good manners that one simply doesn't comment on a pregnant lady's appearance, no matter how huge, unless it is to bathe her in much needed comforting compliments about how lovely that color looks on her or her hair sets off her face.)