I was working on my to-do list and I heard Zachary tell one of the other children, “Daddy threw my blanket away.” He was right. A few days earlier I had one of the older boys take the blanket to the trash. That sounds pretty cruel but you wouldn’t think so if you had seen the tattered mess it had become. It had seen better days.
Zachary didn’t sound like he was complaining but it struck me that I had not explained my actions to him. I had tried to get rid of the old blanket covertly but with eight children watching everything that happens in our home word gets around pretty quickly.
I called him in and had my three-year-old sit on my lap for a minute. I asked him if he knew why I had thrown away his old blanket. He nodded and said, “So I could have my Christmas blanket.” He had another blanket he’d received as a Christmas present during his first year. It hadn’t seen the use of the old one and I had told him this would now be his “new” blanket. I took a minute to explain that the old blanket was in really bad shape, all torn up and worn out. I asked him if he understood. He seemed to. So I told him I loved him and let him down to return to his play.
When he got back to the other room I heard him say, “Daddy talked to me, Daddy talked to me.” He sounded a little excited and a little proud and I think he was trying to let everybody know that this time when Dad called him into the other room he was not in trouble. My heart ached a bit as I realized I often spent more time correcting my children than I did just talking to them.
I’ve been challenged by that thought for some time now and I realize that even if it’s just a couple of questions and an “I love you” to my three-year-old, my children need me to care enough about them to just talk. My children certainly need my correction and instruction, but they also need a chat with Dad with no agenda, and they aren’t in trouble, and they’re not being reprimanded or instructed about their behavior at the dinner table.
How about making some time for a chat with someone today?