Monday, November 29, 2010

Childhood Distraction and Development -- Can I Borrow Some as An Adult?

"Being a dad" and "having a job" are two concepts that have been socially intertwined for quite a long time, perhaps dating back to the Adam. Those men who have taken on the role of a "dad" but struggle holding the title of employee are often the subject of scorn and ridicule. Unfortunately, the current economy is not conducive to gainful employment for many men in the workforce. On the other side of the coin, there are families that choose to have the father stay at home with the kids and allow mom to go back to work. This would certainly make financial sense if mom is a doctor or lawyer and dad is a teacher, but most people who look on the situation do not immediately know the inner financial workings of such a family and pass undeserved judgement on a man who prefers the company of his children.

The relationships a man has with his work and his family these days are interesting...to me, anyway. A typical commute could be 30-45 minutes. A typical work day could be 8-10 hours. In our family's case, I see our kids from about 4:30 (assuming I left the office on time and Chanel didn't take them out and are returning later) to when they go to bed at 7ish. Amazingly, our children are able to develop a relationship with me in at most two and a half hours, which includes both dinner and bath starting about 5:30-6.

With just one hour a day for playing with them, smiling at them, tickling them, running, jumping, spinning with them, laughing, talking, singing with them, the time is precious, to say the least. Yes, there is the weekend, and our oldest has already demonstrated his ability to look forward to it to have more time with Daddy, but it is so intermittent.

Thus, when a child is having a bad day, it becomes so frustrating to know that some of this precious time is wasted and by someone who clearly enjoys it but doesn't understand how it is being wasted. Improvisation is key when you encounter this sort of problem, as I (rather proudly) demonstrated earlier tonight. Our oldest and I were going to walk out to the Blue Box and mail a stack of Christmas cards. The temperature out was, oh, maybe 40- or 50-something and we definitely needed coats. Trouble is, he doesn't like putting it on. He's fine wearing it once it is on, but having to put it on is a source of grief.

He ran from me when he saw the coat. Our house's circular floor plan had him coming back around, though, so I waited for him. He fought a good fight and put up some formidable toddlerish resistance, but when I saw that he was holding a small Lightning McQueen from Cars, "Put Lightning down the tunnel!" It became a game and he didn't even fight when I put the coat on backwards and we had to redo the whole thing.

As I said before at the end of a Pop-Psy post, kids are amazingly resilient, adaptive, and able to comprehend complex concepts before they can verbalize their understanding. They'll do just about anything you ask if they think it's going to be fun; Tom Sawyer should have taught us all this before. Now, until I hit the lottery or develop my home business sufficiently, the trick is going to be making leaving for work tomorrow morning a game and convincing myself it's going to be fun.

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