What a Child Wants in a Parent (Love, Connection, Quality time, Playfulness)

A couple years ago, I saw a news story about a boy whose Dad had died in the war in Iraq. The boy was asked what he thought his Dad was like. Although he hadn’t had the chance to really get to know him, he said, “I think he was kind and fun.”

I was moved by his words.

One, the boy would never see his Dad. Sad. But it also got me thinking… “I think that’s really what kids want from their parents… fun and kindness. I want to do even better at this. That’s how I want my girl to think of me.”

Fast forward to this afternoon as we drove after we had just dropped off one of her best friends…

Me – “Wow, you’re having a great summer!”

She murmured in agreement as she continued building something on Minecraft.

For a moment, I just sort of basked in the satisfaction that she is having such a wonderful summer. It’s a mission of mine to make this summer count as she is growing up so fast.

I also thought about how after she’s had many playdates, even though most of them happen at our home, we miss each other. She will eventually say she wants to spend time with me, and I’ll feel the same. Two days it starts to be felt and three days and it’s a real pull to get in that quality time.

Me – “Isn’t it funny how after a bunch of playdates and you being at summer camps we miss each other, even though we’re around each other?”

Her – “Yeah.”

As we drove on, I reflected on how fortunate I am…

Me – “I appreciate traveling through the Universe with you.”

Her – “I appreciate you, Da.”

Me – “Thank you, honey.”

Her – “I appreciate that you’re such a fun and loving Daddy.”

Me – “What did you say?”

I thought I had heard her correctly, but I wanted to hear it one more time…

Her – “I appreciate that you’re such a fun and loving Daddy.”

Me – “Awww… thank you.”

Cue sappy Daddy. I was touched.

One isn’t always spot on as a parent, especially after having to repeat oneself about basic things for the thousandth time while being low on sleep. But one tries. In fact, I’ve been really trying to be even more loving and playful with her throughout the summer as I know that my energy is what sets the tone for our home and thus her summer. It’s sort of my secret Daddy mission each day.

My eyes moistened up a bit for a minute after hearing that she was feeling this way about being around me.

Then I recalled the little boy who lost his Daddy who, despite not really knowing him, thought of him as fun and kind.

It’s pretty much what kids want. Yeah, sure they need safety, healthy foods and life skills. But what they thrive on is love and playfulness.

Sometimes, my Mom tells stories about her Dad. She always smiles as she recounts funny things he said or did. She has all these stories. When I hear them, I always think, “That’s what I want… for her to be able to look back one day on her childhood and just think, “He was fun and loving.”

So, I’m feeling good as the thoughts I had when I heard that boy speak a couple years ago are my reality and thus her reality.

You never really get to call it mission accomplished as a parent, though, because the days keep coming and they keep changing. It’s a commitment I have to renew each morning.

“Make this day count with her as she’ll never be this young again. Be loving, invest time in her, and create playful moments to remember.”

And, if there is one thing I’ve learned as a parent, when I’m in a loving and playful place, parenting is just plain easy. After all, I’m speaking her language; the language kids love to hear most as they travel through time and space with us.

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