As a dad, one of my biggest fears has recently been centered around missing “it.” Here’s what I mean…
When my little boy was brought home and I became a first-time dad, my fears were kind of centered around his health. Since Riley was premature, those first few weeks were really tough. After getting him home, it didn’t get much easier (although we somehow thought it would).
It was still tough.
We were those parents who took their kid to the doctor for his first nose drip. We were those parents who watched the monitor all night at times, trying to protect our newborn baby.
Eventually, we worked through that. We trusted God and still do.
Lately, though, the thing that I
fear caution myself against is missing “it.”
By “it” I mean the experience of being a dad. The joy of watching my boy grow up. The fun moments. The tough ones. When he experiences those firsts. When he chooses the right thing. When he has fun. When teaching moments pop up. When it’s just him, his mom and I.
When he’s just being Riley.
I don’t want to miss those moments, so I’ve been thinking about some ways to help me not miss them. Here are a few of the ideas I’ve had along the way…
1 – Drop
Put down your phone. Simply put, that’s something that’s a real struggle for us millennial parents (and even for baby boomer grandparents from what I witness). I don’t just mean don’t take pictures, I think picture taking can be a good and fun thing. I’m talking more about those times when he wants me to play. He wants me to laugh. He wants my attention, but my phone has it instead.
I’ve started to drop it. Even drop it a long way from arm’s length so I’m not tempted. I don’t want him to see the Apple logo on my phone when we’re at home more than he sees the smile on my face.
2 – Interact
There are times when it’s OK to not be talking to my son. I get that. I tell him sometimes that the world revolves around something but it’s not him (that’s good ole fashioned parenting there!). I don’t have to always be talking with him. Yes, there are times when he can watch Paw Patrol on his iPad in peace. It’s important that I interact with my child on his level, though. That I talk about what they’re doing on Paw Patrol, that I play with him even when I don’t understand what I’m playing. (The other day, I had a fire helmet on my head, was holding the back of a baseball bat, and making a “swoosh” noise for reasons I still don’t get.) This interaction is important to his development and it’s important to me…that I get “it.”
3 – Check
When I pick my son up from anything, I always ask how it went. Whether it’s a grandparent’s house, daycare or church, I check on him. I want him to know that I care and that he can tell me things. I want him growing up knowing that I’m going to discipline him, but I’m also interested in him, in what he’s doing. I care. He needs to know that I care and I need to be sure that I hear all about what he cares about.
OK, those are my three. What would you add?
This article originally appeared here.