Melissa Arca: Make some family time – it's truly a fine gift

12/27/2012 12:00 AM

12/27/2012 9:33 AM

The other day after picking up my son from school, we had some extra minutes before we needed to pick up my daughter. We were just a few days before Christmas, and the rush was definitely on. So, in my desire to slow down time a bit, I decided we should make a little pit stop. Just me, him, coffee and some treats.

We sat there, us two, in a cozy little corner of a local coffeehouse. He delighted in his sweet baked treat, and I delighted in him, this second-grader on the verge of turning 8. We chatted, laughed, and cozied up.

I started with the usual barrage of questions: "How was your day?," "Who did you play with?" and "Who did you sit with at lunch?"

And, in spite of myself, knowing that my son rarely responds to this type of interrogation, I continued on with the questioning. I mean, we only had a few precious moments; I really wanted to make them count.

Then I wised up and sat back to just listen and be. I watched him and was soon struck by how much he'd grown. His pants were starting to creep up above his ankles and now, apparently, he says things like, "Mom, I'm in second grade; I'm still trying to figure it all out."

So, he's a wise guy, too – in more ways than one.

It was one of those moments when you realize you have let too much time slip by. How long had it been since we talked like this? How long had it been since I really looked at him and saw him for the awesome 7-year-old he is?

Judging by my own surprise about his appearance and mannerisms, it had been too long.

It was the wake-up call I needed, right when I needed it.

No matter what's going on, I must make time daily during which I'm completely focused on each of my children. The amazing thing is, it doesn't take much. Ten or 15 minutes spent really connecting and focusing on them makes a world of difference.

We left the coffee shop relaxed and happy, and that feeling carried over into our evening in spite of the usual homework and bedtime rush. He seemed kinder and more patient with his little sister and listened the first time when I reminded him that his screen time was up.

The next day, I was gifted with some extra one-on-one time with my daughter and happily snatched it up.

Our time: The gift our children will never directly ask for but what they truly want and need the most.

We get busy, our schedules are busting at the seams, and we're in a rush to get home, make dinner and get to bed, so we can wake up and do it all over again.

In the meantime, our kids grow up, and if we don't make a concerted effort to steal some of that time we just may miss the most important parts.

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