Have a Pokemon battle and then a water fight. This was my 5-year-old’s suggestion for what we might do on our “date” afternoon together. I was thinking lunch, followed by some beach time. No prob; I’ll pivot. I’m used to doing things in which I have zero percent interest. It’s what we do as parents. As partners. As family, my husband pointed out as he presented me a Burton gift card for our anniversary—my “reward” for investing two winters into learning how to snowboard (a previously terrifying exercise), so that we could ride as a family.
Snowboarding still isn’t how I’d choose to spend all of my Saturdays. But I like it. Plus, playing along with my boys’ interests has made me more adventurous and, arguably, more fun. They participate in “my” things too—begrudgingly. And it’s good for them, and for their future. Let me explain.
We dance. Back in the 80s, when other kids were catching balls and playing water games and doing all the things my boys want to do (and I suck at), I was doing handstands and plies. As I result, I can’t catch—or throw—a ball. But, as another result, I (arguably) have good moves. And I want them to have good moves them, too. Because a guy who can rock a beat is way more attractive than one who can’t. Truth.
We write notes. Thank you notes. Heartfelt ones. With pictures and other creative touches. Because gratitude is good. And learning how to express yourself—and your feelings—helps you become whole. Targeting people with your art is fun. And who doesn’t dig a sensitive soul who showers you with gifts that make you feel special.
We bake. Pizza dough. Cookies. Pies. Making something delicious together requires teamwork and focus. It underscores important math concepts in a totally Common Core kind of way and lets me nerd out with them on chemistry concepts. But perhaps the number-one reason I bake with my boys is this: when they start courting their crushes, it will be a huge differentiator to be the dude from Vermont who rocks a signature apple pie. Because that’s hot.
We go to the library. I’ll be honest: my boys love the children’s librarian at our local branch so much that I get a bit of a break while we’re there. But I take them to the library, too, because I want them to grow to love the things about it that I do: the smell, the bound-up knowledge, the peacefulness of losing yourself in those orderly rows. Also: I want them to appreciate the act of borrowing versus buying—annnnd to grow up to be well-read and interesting. Like that Dos Equis guy.