Anyone who knows me knows that the highlight of my week usually comes when I get to spend the weekend with my 9-year-old daughter. No matter what I have going on in my life, everything pretty much slows down when its daddy/daughter time. I look forward to the time we spend together so we can catch up, hang out, eat junk food, watch TV, have uninterrupted conversations, and do all of the stuff that dads and daughters should do. So I was kind of surprised last week when she sent me a message that said “can you switch weekends with mommy so I can go to my friend’s sleepover party?” I was appalled!
When you’re like me, and you don’t see your child every day it can be a little hard to grasp the fact that spending time with pops may not always be the very first thing on their list of priorities. Kids have a lot going on these days, and it can be hard for them to divide up their time between all of the activities that they feel are important. Even though we don’t see each other as much as I would like, Facetime and iMessage have given us the opportunity to communicate more frequently when we are away from each other, but nothing can compare to the one on one time that we have when she is actually with me.
Prior to getting her text I had already planned a fun filled weekend of shopping,catching up on Disney channel shows, and helping her create a Halloween costume until…screeeeech!!!! All of my plans came to a halt with 65 characters or less. It wasn’t the fact that she wanted to go to a sleepover that surprised me, it was the fact that she was willing to ditch the old man for a night of fun and games with her friends.
At the age of 9 I guess its safe to say that my child is closing in on those preteen years. So even though this won’t be the last time that she chooses her friends over me, it most definitely was the first and it made me think about the fact that pretty soon I will be raising a teenager so I might as well get used to playing second fiddle to all of her social activities, sports, and whatever else she may have saved in her iPad mini calendar.
So after thinking about it for a few days, I decided that I would allow her to go to the birthday party sleepover with her friends. I think that parenting is about learning just as much as anything else. We not only have to learn how to raise our kids, but also how to accept the fact that they are growing up in front of us whether we are ready for them to or not. So I had to learn how to take a little bit of rejection in order to make my little one happy.
Here are the five things that I learned from being kicked to the curb.
1. Kids just want to be kids…and we should let them – No matter how much we want to protect our children and keep them safe, sometimes we just have to let them be kids and do the same fun stuff that we did growing up. I know that when my daughter is with me she will be safe and secure. It can be kind of scary realizing that you have to ease up on your grip a little bit as they get older. This is not to say that we should let them totally run wild on us, but a little bit of time away from home to experience some fun is okay.
2. I’m really not as cool as I think I am – I always like to think that I’m the cool parent. You know, the one who is still in touch with the younger generation. I work in radio, I mentor teenagers, so I have a pretty good grasp on what’s going on with the next generation. You think that makes a difference to a 9-year-old when offered a night full of nail painting, popcorn popping, birthday cake eating excitement? Nope! Not one bit. If the growing amount of gray hairs in my heard wasn’t enough, this pretty much solidified it for me. I’m really not the cool guy any more.
3. Appreciate the time that you have with your children – No amount of time with any loved one should be taken for granted. But sometimes we look at our kids and forget to say two simple words…THANK YOU! Children are a gift to us. We should show our appreciation for them because they aren’t going to always be those small little beings that they are today. One day they are going to grow up and have families of their own. So we should take the time to appreciate the opportunities that we have to spend time with them.
4. It’s going to get worse before it gets better - So I guess I have to realize that I am raising a child who is a lot more socially active than I was when I was growing up. This girl is consistently on the honor roll while actively participating in gymnastics, basketball, girl scouts, chorus, and much more. I don’t mean to brag…well yes I do…But the girl has got it going on!!! I shouldn’t hold my breath on her social life slowing down any time soon. It’s good that she is involved in so many activities and gaining new friends to help build her social scope. The more interests and activities that she is exposed to the better!
5. Meet the parents – Fortunately for me, I was able to have met the mother of the young lady who was having the sleepover a few weeks prior to my daughter asking me if she could go. Personally, I would have liked to have been able to do a pop up visit at these folks house and see how they managed their home. You know, take a pair of white gloves and do an inspection of the entire home from top to bottom! But I’m sure that would have been a wee bit embarrassing for my baby girl. The fact is that everybody doesn’t parent the way that I do. So I at least want to know who the adults are in the situation when I am sending my child to spend time with some one else’s family. You can never be too inquisitive when it comes to the well being of your children. Safety…Safety…Safety!