For those of you who know me, you know that I will be facing a pretty major milestone in the next few weeks. My only child, Jack, is about to complete his final day of elementary school. While I’ve been living in the world of middle school professionally for quite some time, this is my first (and only) foray into this world as a parent. Like all of you, I have mixed emotions about this. While I am 100% certain he is ready for this next leg of his journey, I am also sad to see this chapter of his childhood come to a close. I find myself walking in that emotionally complex place where one foot is planted in sappy nostalgia and the other is dancing the edge of eager anticipation. While I’m sure all of this is completely normal, I know that the true secret to happiness is pulling both feet together and using them to tow the line of the “here and now.” This past weekend at the CSD retreat, we spent a significant amount of time exploring the notion of honoring childhood. In this fast-paced world we live in, it seems that we are ever increasingly expecting more and more of our children. We rush them from one grade to the next…one level to the next…one activity to the next… all in the name of getting them ready for “what’s next” and preparing them for the “real world.” While all of this is done with the best of intentions, it could mean that some rather significant sacrifices are being made. For instance, I often wonder, are we taking the time to just “be” with our kids? I don’t know about you, but as a mom, I sometimes worry that I fail miserably at this. Not only is Jack busy, but so am I. I find myself getting wrapped up in the hustle-bustle of everyday life, and if I’m not careful, I can let some pretty glorious opportunities to witness magic and strengthen our relationship pass me by. With summer vacation on the horizon, I really want to be intentional about how I spend time with my son. In other words, I want to take a break from the “doing” and focus more on the “being.” I think a great way to do this is through reading. Often times as kids get older, we tend to discount the importance of reading with our kids. We chock this up to a thing that mommies and daddies do with little tots who fit nicely and comfortably in our adult-sized laps. But this is such a tragedy! So much can be gained from reading to (or with) older kids. So in the upcoming summer months, I hope you’ll join me in the following:
Read with your kids.
Snuggle up with them (if they will let you), but if not, find another creative way to create a shared reading experience. Maybe you listen to a classic or even a new release on audio as you take a long car trip. Or maybe you both read on your own but then come together for “coffee” dates to discuss what you’re reading. Having a common read is a great way to get inside the mind of your child. I am always fascinated to hear what Jack-Jack thinks, and I am equally as grateful for the opportunity to provide my insight to certain topics from a more objective point of view. And if I’m really lucky, he’ll let me snuggle him a bit…although I realize those days may be numbered.
Let your kids see you getting lost in a book.
Remember the old saying that actions speak louder than words? Well, it’s true! Let’s face it; our kids rarely hear what we say, but you can bet your bottom dollar they are watching what we do. All of the research says that reading is highly environmental. In other words, avid readers produce avid readers. Let your kids see you read and it’s likely they will follow suit.
Take your kids to a library or book store.
I have yet to see a kid (or adult) who doesn’t love this experience! Make it extra special with a visit to the ice cream parlor or to a local coffee shop afterwards. This can be a great “kid date” – something that I’m sure your children will remember for years to come.
So as we welcome these summer months – and believe me, I welcome them with open arms – let’s make it a point to “be” with our kids. Perhaps reading is the magic that can bring us closer together. Do lots of fun things; it’s summertime after all, but don’t forget to take some time to just “be.” And above all else, honor their childhood. I wish all of you many moments of magic in the next two months! May we all be blessed with the gift of living in the here and now.
All my best,