Sunday, January 16, 2011

"Just me and you, Mommy..."

Back in September (has it been that long since I've blogged? Um, yes. Suffice it to say that my return to work, a.k.a. leaving Kelly Bells, was much harder than expected, and I spent a lot of nights wallowing in self-pity, regret, and Oreos rather than working it out through my blog. But I digress...), I decided to sign the Teege up for a sports class. I thought hey, he likes to run around like a maniac, why not? Could be fun!

Or could be a colossal waste of money and negative energy.

Teege was much more interested in sitting on basketballs and announcing "I AM IRON MAN!" instead of shooting hoops or making a soccer goal. Which would have been fine...but he was the ONLY ONE. The other kids, egged on by psychotic soccer moms-in-training, tore around the gym performing their drills with manic precision. Teege would wander around aimlessly, bellowing "I'M THIRSTY" and wind up in my lap.

After suffering the hairy eyeballs from the other moms and getting upset beyond reason that Teege wasn't exactly loving it, NR and I decided to quit. The kid is three, for God's sakes. But how else to keep him away from the TV on Saturdays?

That's when we decided to start "dating."

Several years ago I attended Speak Up, a forum for teens, teachers, and parents to discuss drugs, pressure, sex, all that good stuff. At the closing address, one dad recommended "dating" your children. You can't just ignore your kids and then expect them to magically abide by your rules. Instead, dating can lay a healthy foundation for mutual respect, open communication, and ultimately (hopefully) positive behavior and good choices. So he suggested spending quality one-on-one time with your kid whenever possible--beyond just showing up at their games or required school events.

So on Saturdays, Nick and I rotate "date time" with the Teege. One of us will take him out for something special, without the other parent or Kelly. Sometimes it's an actual event--like a children's theater show, a Home Depot kids workshop (he's produced a picture frame, spice rack, and battery organizer), or a movie. Other times it's simply lunch at McDonald's, or hanging out in the kids' section at Borders for a while.

Teege absolutely loves it, and we do too. When we tell him what our special outing is going to be that day, his face lights up, and he'll say, "Just me and you, Mommy (or Daddy)?" At bedtime, he'll often want to talk about whatever we did, and when we'll get to do it again.

I know once he gets older and activities start to litter the schedule, these times may be limited. But I sure hope it's "just me and Teege" for as long as possible.