It’s been five years since the birth of our first daughter and I’ve realized we don’t spend enough alone time together. Honestly, I don’t care what people call the time they spend alone with one of their kids. Call them an outing, call them time spent, call them a date. Some think the term we use for this time with our kids matters, I don’t. I think the time spent is the key.
The kind of time where you spend all your attention on the person whose hand you’re holding. Where you don’t hear anyone else’s voice and where time flies but you want it to go on forever.
A date where your partner waits patiently at home and gives you a big kiss when you pull into the driveway and carry your child across the threshold of the house.
I need to go on more dates (or your word) with my daughters. What I’ve realized is that kids grow up fast. For the first year or so of my oldest daughter’s life, I spent more time trying to figure out how to properly change a bum and how to hold a child like a human not like a sack of potatoes than I did learning how to help her develop a personality or to learn how to be approachable and to listen to their concerns. Then by the time I truly started to feel comfortable about being a dad, we had our second child and everything just got busy.
Now I feel good again, like we’ve come to a point in our lives where we can get to know each other as individuals instead of just members of the same family. My daughters know I like to have a beard and I know they like to dance. I know a lot about them and they know a lot about me, but we can do better. Spending as much time around my daughters as I do, they seem like a great catch, like great people to sit down and talk to and to drink a milkshake with.
I think spending one on one time with your children is one of the best ways to build bonds with them. This goes for both moms and dads. It’s easy math (and trust me I’m not good at math) that when you’re alone with one child, you have more attention to give them.
My daughters are now both at an age where these dates can happen and I’m looking forward to them more than I’ve looked forward to something in a long time.
I can picture our night vividly:
I’ll put on my work clothes and she’ll put on their ‘sock pants’ (tights) and best Sunday attire. The dress will be so frilly that when she spins around she’ll “look just like a ballerina.” Or she’ll put on her Wonder Woman cape, or her chef jacket. And she’ll be more beautiful than anything I’ve seen.
We’ll both brush our hair, because “when grown-ups go outside they need to not have crazy hair.”
I’ll strap her into their car seat and then not be able to see her as we drive from Point A to Point B. This is ok though because when kids are strapped in a car seat, you can sure hear them. If things according to plan, we’ll likely sing the ABC song 37 times.
We get to a fancy restaurant. That isn’t that fancy at all, but is a spot that will allow my kid to yell and run around. They’ll allow that because by brother owns the restaurant. So we’ll blow bubbles in our milk and pick the pepperoni of our pizza. We’ll eat too much and I’ll loosen my belt one notch and she’ll sit up straighter so we have room for ice cream sandwiches.
I’ll get a dessert coffee too and we’ll talk about how her day went and how she has this friend at school that she really likes. He’s a boy. I’ll smile and she’ll tell me she likes him because he can throw a stick 25 feet. Oh, and there’s a girl too. A girl who also likes to watch Dino Dan and who has the same pair of shoes she does.
I’ll look at my watch and realize that it’s already past bedtime. For both of us. But, a late and out of control night is what I wanted and we’ll both have chocolate covered faces so it will feel like we’ve done this right.
I’ll pay the bill this time and let her know she’s got next now that she’s earning an allowance.
I’ll load a now nodding off little lady into the back of the car and we’ll drive home much more quietly than we drove in. I’ll look up at the stars as we drive and I’ll wonder which one of them it was I wished on to get to be lucky enough to have two perfect little girls in my life.
I’ll bring her up to bed and let her sleep in her dress. I might even sleep in my clothes to prolong the wonderful feeling a little bit. I’ll kiss her on the head and close the door.
I’ll go to bed myself, and hopefully dream of the next night out with my daughter.