Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Take Time To Be...

Spending Time With My Daughter

While taking a long walk a few days ago, I starting thinking of some of the special times I spent with my daughter, Anna, while she was growing up. I realized, that I was able to give unusual amounts of quality time to her because I was a single dad with just one daughter. And, I always prioritized her visits as time for us. We often took time to just be, not letting a clock dictate what we did or when we did it. My point is that this was time very well spent. I believe, it helped to make my daughter who she is today.  And, it most certainly is why I started this blog; to share some of what has worked, knowing it can work for any parent - child relationship. 
Papa G B

Take time to...PLAY

  • Anna would work on blocks and tinker toys, building huge structures. Villages stocked with my childhood cowboys, Indians, soldiers, knights, & animals. Sometimes, we would add an entire  
    Father and young child playing together
    Papa Green Bean and Anna
    testing stretch  & strength!
    amusement fair with all kinds of rides and games, using clay and other art and craft materials.
  • We would go to playgrounds with large jungle gyms, swings, and slides staying for hours on end. I would normally use this as an opportunity to relax with a cup of coffee or tea, and read the newspaper, while always acknowledging Anna's antics, never missing a, "Daddy - watch me!". Other parents, with their kids, would come and go. Anna learned to interact and make friends with older children, as well as help and lead younger ones in spontaneous fun & games. 

Take time to...CREATE and IMAGINE

  • Anna and I (and others) loved to play a verbal form of the classic game "Scattergories", when out and about. One of us would start... "Foods", the other without thinking would pick a letter... "P". Then we would go back and forth... "Pickle", "Parsley", "Purple Kale", "nice, now we can't use "purple" again". This would continue until one of us could not go on (20 second rule). Then the others would get one more chance for a bonus point. "Next round... go"... "Famous movie characters"... "D"... "Dr. Doolittle". "Nice, double points!". 
  • Anna, myself, and her friends would record on our cassette player. We would record an entire 120 minute cassette of skits, poems, songs, jokes, and stories. Often the ad-lib "interviews" were the funniest. These were often personalized as gifts for Anna's grandparents.
  • Halloween was a favorite time to make our own costumes from materials hanging around. Anna later went on to win quite a few Halloween contests. Just recently, she was the back-to-back winner of her company's annual short original video, using her own costumes and script. 

Take time to... OBSERVE and THINK

  • Anna and I loved to sit quietly and observe nature while outside. We once followed an ant make its way clear across a field & up onto a tree. Her favorite movie used to be Microcosmos, a day in the life of a meadow in France. One night, we watched a large toad snap up lighting bugs, until his belly started glowing in the dark! 
Visiting Opa (grandfather)
Anna, 14, with Pops out for a walk
  • We would go to art museums and play a game (we still do this one). In each room, we would decide 1, 2, or 3 pieces to 'favorite' silently. Then, after taking some time observing and mentally choosing, we would share our picks, see if we matched, and talk about the winners. 
  • In aquariums, we would sit on a bench and watch the fish go by naming them, and pretending what kind of character they could be in a film, using funny voices. Sometimes, we would do the same thing with people walking by, making up a personality type and a matching job for them.

Take time to... READ

  • We would go to the library and each pick five books to check out, taking our time to thoroughly look at them before choosing. They had headsets for audio books, so we normally went through a few of those on the spot. We would also check out a couple of music CD's each. 
  • When Anna was younger, we would read the same book often (by her choosing, of course). We would stop, and talk about the details in the pictures. We would play 'I Spy' also. We always read before bedtime. Sometimes, I would ask Anna to 'read' to me... "Daddy is tired and needs to rest his eyes". She would happily make up stories, about each page, from memory, as I drifted off. Later, after Anna began to read, we would each take our side of the book, taking turns reading a page. 

Take time to... APPRECIATE

  • I always went out of my way to show Anna a reverence for life. We would often pull the car over, and run back to pick up a turtle in the road, placing it out of harms way. 
  • Anna learned to always check swimming pool's filter drains for frogs before a morning swim. She would pick them up and place them on the grass. 
  • We always had a fun time making our own birthday and Christmas cards for friends and family. We would get out a blank sheet of paper and all our colored pencils. Folding the paper in half
    twice, the fun began in earnest to decorate and personalize the card. We would create short poems, using them as riddles to entice the recipient to guess the contents of their present. 

Take time to... TRUST

    Family reunion
    Visiting Vancouver, B.C. last year
    Papa G B and Anna
  • We would plan to go out for a picnic, so we would work together packing our snacks. When Anna was quite young (3 years old), I would give her the ability to choose the food and help to prepare it. She would meticulously cut her carrot and celery sticks. She would open a can of tuna fish with great effort, mix the mayonnaise in with vigor, and scrape every last morsel out with a spatula, using precision strokes. It was an extended food prep period, and it tasted so good later that day!
  • After Anna was born, I would lay her (diaper only) on my bare chest, while I laid down. Sometimes I would hum or softly sing a song. But, often, we would just breathe together, quietly feeling each other's warm skin while our hearts rhythmically melded our souls together. Our relationship started off, and has always been, honest, trustworthy, and pure. 

Please, always take the time to be with your children when they are babies, toddlers, infants, young children, adolescents, teenagers, and adults. This same sentiment applies to any loved ones in your life.

With love and gratitude, Papa Green Bean

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