It causes me pain and shame to admit my husband and I have had barely any time alone with Jack. We often get to have two year old Emily as an only child when Jack trots off to a grandparent’s house for a day or overnight. But it has been months and months since we had any QT with our six year old son.
Like any other relationship, the parent/child dyad takes time and energy to nurture and support the bond. Sometimes we have to participate in activities we find unpleasant for one another. For me, this is getting down on the floor and playing with trucks, Star Wars action figures, or Beyblades. Don’t even get me started on how much I despise Legos. It is so much easier for me to play dolls or kitchen with my daughter, and this is important for me to be mindful of because if I don’t get down on the floor and play with Jack, our relationship suffers. He notices and feels neglected, or like I give Emily way more attention. And he expresses this sense of neglect in words (which is awesome!), or in behavior (which really sucks ass!).
BTW, I am not forcing gender stereotypes on my children based on the above mentioned activities. Our children have access to all sorts of toys and these are just the activities to which they gravitate. But it is a very happy coincidence my daughter and I both like dolls!
Anyhoo, this morning we had an offer from a grandparent to spend some time with the child of our choosing. So, we dropped Emily off for a playdate and went off with just Jack. We went out to breakfast and played Hangman in the booth while waiting for our food. Jack chose to sit next to me and at times would snuggle and nuzzle me, or give me sticky, cinnamon bun kisses.
After breakfast we went to our local museum of fine art. We had taken Jack there last year, and he wasn’t too impressed by it at the time, plus we had a very cranky Emily in a stroller then. But today he was engaged and interested and it was just plain fun. We were all relaxed and chipper.
It felt great to reconnect as the triad we used to be. Jack, his dad, and I used to be a super tight-knit trio before the arrival of Emily two years ago. Jack was four when she was born so we had had four years of “just the three of us”. While Emily is the exact stuff of which my heart is made, I must admit that life has been so much more complex for all of us since she became the fourth leaf on our little family tree. We are still learning how to balance it all.
In some ways, Jack has suffered most, being dethroned as the only child and all, but this year has been really hard for all of us for a bunch of different reasons. Spending a couple hours with just my fellas as the year draws to a close was just what I needed. Today was such a gift. I’m not one for resolutions, but I’m thinking that making a point of having a date between just Jack and us once a month may be really helpful and restorative to our relationship.
And in honor of the season, here is a picture I took of a portrait of Santa today. HO HO HO!!!