“Dad, let’s go back to Hong Kong!”
My daughter who was about 6 year old told me when we were looking at pictures from our trip. I asked her what about Hong Kong she enjoyed. I thought, maybe it’s our time in Ocean Park. Or was it the train ride from station to station? Or it might have been buying her tea set in the night market of Mongkok.
Her reply to my question surprised me. She said that it was when we played “Hook” in our tiny room in Shamrock Hotel. I tried to remember what the game was. It was when we were in the room and she was acting like Wendy from the movie Peter Pan. Her brother Nathan was Peter Pan and you would probably be able to guess who’s the bad guy (Hook) in the game. That would be me.
What I realized was that it wasn’t because of the shopping, nor the amusement park that she wanted to go back to Hong Kong. It was simply because of the time spent together.
When we are available for our children, it gives them a sense of importance. They feel that they are prioritized and loved. To them, love is spelled as T.I.M.E. And this would include ballet recitals, athletic events, meal times, graduation from summer workshops.
On the flip side, when we don’t make ourselves available, we communicate that yes, they are important but other things still come ahead of them. Thus, conveying that they are not THAT important.
That’s the funny thing about the discussion about quality and quantity time. I can’t tell my kids, “Alright, daddy has 15 minutes with you here in Mcdonald’s play place. Let’s make sure this is quality time. C’mon, let’s make this memorable.” It will sound conjured, manufactured and artificial. But quality time springs from quantity time. And I realize this is such a precious commodity these days.
A quick practical application to help us gauge our time with our kids is to ask them straight. “How can I be a better dad? What are things you enjoy? What do you consider fun?” Take notes and do it! There’s really no other way.
I love what Barbara Johnson said,
“To be in your children’s memories tomorrow,
you have to be in their lives today.”
This article, week 3 is on Affection.