Sunday, July 13, 2008

Family Time-Variety

We can't stress how important family time is for us, and in a way, as parents we have to literally fight hard to maintain it, because we are under constant assault. I don't mean that in a bad way, people are friendly and social and we feel fortunate that they want our company, it's just that we value our time together as a family, and having even just one more person along disrupts that. For people who long for social contact, they probably can't understand this, but know a few families that can probably relate. An example, our friends declined to get together with another friend because the father was taking the day off and they had planned on having a family day together. What I admired about it was that they had the guts to say this outright and say it like it was.

With this in mind, we've been seeking balance in our lives, and mostly in the lives of our kids. That means a variety of experiences with a variety of kids doing a variety of things. Only time will tell if it's been fruitful, but at the very least, and most importantly, it's been fun and rewarding. I think our kids had a really focused period of hanging out with one child and they really enjoyed it, but came to see her as the only friend in the world. We don't in any way want to discourage this friendship, kids should have a best friend, but their lives shouldn't revolve around one person, especially at the tender ages of four and seven. So the impetus lay with us to provide a more varied set of experiences, while also maintaining our important daily routines. Not always so easy, especially with just one car, but we've managed to accomplish a few things.

Last week was actually a great week, and our kids have been diligent and inspired in their daily lives, doing things we wish for them to do without our prompting. Sure, there are several bumps along the way, but for the most part it's been going very well. We went swimming at the Hanover pool and though we had to contend with the uber-suburban crowd, we had fun within our own little group, and the kids had a blast. Plus, it was a scorcher of a day, so it was nice to get into the water. We could have stayed their all day, but everyone had places to be, so we swam for at least three hours.

Our kids reached some milestones, as well. N, for the first time, swam the entire day without his life vest. He didn't want it from the get-go, and he swam up a storm. I never left his side, and I think it really helped his confidence, not to mention his overall viewing pleasure. He did a great job. A made a big leap, both literally and figuratively. She worked up the courage and jumped off the diving board. Now on the surface this may not seem like a big deal, but for a cautious child who over thinks everything in life, it was huge, but just another example of how she can rationally think things through and eventually overcome her anxieties and accomplish things. I've seen it before. It helps to be with kids who are more brazen, they inspire her to some degree, but in the end it boils down to her desire to try something.

We met the Ms at the pool and besides being older, except for RM, they are all accomplished swimmers. We decided to have a picnic and brought along pizza and chips and drinks and it was a blast. We hit the pool and A sat back and watched the other kids jumping off the diving board. It was on her mind, I could tell, I asked her, but she wasn't ready. She had a great time swimming, but by the time came for us to leave, she didn't want to leave without trying it, so she asked if she could give it a go before we left, and of course I encouraged her.

She practiced jumping off the side of the pool before cautiously walking to the end of the diving board. Once she was there, there was no turning back because of the queue of kids behind her. I gave her a thumbs up, but she ignored me, being focused on the moment. Then she did a gentle bounce and jumped into the water. She surfaced, swam to the side, and was beaming. I think it was huge for her, and what really made it great was the Ms ran over and congratulated her. A did it several more times and they joined in, and unfortunately we all had to go.

But what a great day. I love days like that, when the kids do well. It makes everything worthwhile. Until the next time, thanks for reading.

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