April 30, 2006

Date Night

An important part of the way we parent is to have regular date nights with our kids. We don't set an actual date or time frame but more read their barometer and do our best to have them before it starts to drop or more frequently during challenging times with particular children and atleast every few months with each child. We tend to take turns making sure they get special time with each of us.

Today was my turn with Rhiannon and we had a great night! In general on my date nights I try to give them freedom to direct the night as they want and try to say no as little as possible. Sometimes I offer suggestions or guidance and occasionaly say no as needed but all in all it is their night.

Rhiannon and I were joined tonight by Laura Felicity (her Felicity American girl doll that she also calls Laura for Laura Ingalls) throughout our date, which was cute and fun. We began at a yarn store picking out yarn for matching ponchos I am making her and her dolls (she also has an Elizabeth doll) - she picked purple because the Romans thought purple was for royalty and highly valued. She got to pick out a little treat as well and she picked a bag of shells and a container to hold them in. She also got a piece of candy as was estatic when I agreed to Bubble Gum Tape (6 feet - what was I thinking?!?!?!) which she opened immediately.

We then went to the library to return books and pick up some others. She choose the Kaya series from AG. We were there briefly and headed to a mall. There we ate dinner at a sub shop she really likes and then walked the mall. We went clothes shopping and she got to pick out a pretty peach dress, a skirt and a top. Then she rode one of those pay rides I never say yes to (this one was a roller coaster) she was excited. So far bubble gum, clothes of her choice, dinner at the restuarant of her choice, pop, and a pay ride, all usual no's from me.

We went up for some ice cream and then decided to watch a movie. We went to see RV with Robin Williams. There were funny moments, there were cheap joke moments but Rhiannon found it very funny and there were glimpses of my own life in there that made me laugh and sad at the same time. Blackberry's, families that IM to communicate, kids growing up fast, homeschooling (not world's best portrayal though atleast attempts to redeem itself), trying to find a wireless signal and connecting as a family. I am not going to say this is our life as our kids are still little and we have different family values, priorities and approaches but it had its funny moments. I'd say wait for the rental.

Still we had a nice fun time together. For once Rhiannon did not have to go to the bathroom in the middle of the movie and she even had a little kids pack of popcorn, pop and candy! So many treats for one day for her but a special time.

We had great conversations and hugs and laughs and smiles. She was able to be honest and share some things and I was able to give her complete undivided attention and my heart, mind, eyes, ears and hands focused just on her for a change. It was a time to fill up her love tank and I could tell by the end that we had and my own love tank was filled up in the process as well.

At one point tonight we were talking about school and she was hesitant to share with me I could tell. I told her she could tell the truth to me or to dad if she felt uncomfortable and after a deep breath she said "Well I don't want to hurt you or upset you and I think if I say I am unhappy or stressed with school that I am saying that you are a bad teacher and I don't want to say that or hurt or upset you." What a tender heart she has and how she represented the quandry many homeschool kids and parents can find themselves in as they navigate both grounds together. We talk of how hard it can be for a parent to be both a parent and a teacher but overlook how hard it can be for a kid to be both a child and a student of their parent. What ground they tread!

Our heart to heart went well from there and of course with reassurances that she is loved unconditionally no matter how she does at school or in anything. She was able to share how she really felt about some things and we moved on to subjects like friends, field trips she would like to see and her struggles with her siblings as well as the joys and victories of recent.

Date nights are so important for everyone involved. I was encouraged when we returned home and Rhiannon jumped up and gave Serona a huge pick me up and hug me daddy hug and thanked him for watching the other kids so she could have some special time with me.

At the end of the night she gave me big hugs and kisses and three seashells from her new treasure. Gift giving is important to her, her main love language. I have learned to cherish these treasures from the heart.

While tonight's date night was much larger and more expensive than a usual one it seemed to be what was called for in this particular situation with Rhiannon at this time. It seemed to be just what filled her tank while on another day it may just be getting an ice cream cone up the street and getting away for a half hour.

If you do not already have dates with your kids, make it a priority! It fills everyone's love tanks and reminds us all of what is special about each of us, parent and child.

Kiss and hug those kids!
Tenniel

3 comments:

  1. What a great post! Those "alone" times are precious aren't they? I just posted on the same subject recently after my date night with my ds6. It gives us a chance to reconnect and just be together.

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  2. When I was growing up, my dad and I would spend a day together every October when school was closed for teacher's work day. I can still remember those special times.

    I have recently started spending an hour a day (alternating days) with my children and they get to pick the activity of choice. DS and I play Civilization. DD and I go outside and talk and swing and play unicorns...it is neat how they are so different, yet we can enjoy special time together.

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  3. We do similar things. Each month I take each daughter out to breakfast. Part of our routine is to review some of the good things we've noticed our daughters doing. I once heard that most children hear like 10 negative things for each positive comment. We're trying to get the ratio up to at least 10 to 2.

    My wife has recently started doing early morning walks, taking turns with each of our daughters.

    I do agree that it is important to spend some one-on-one time.

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