Sunday, February 6, 2011
If you've looked at my 40 for 40 tab, you may have noticed number thirty-two: "Make Birthdays more special" - let me give you a little background. I did not grow up with big, fantastic birthday celebrations. We usually got to choose our favorite dinner meal, my mom would make it, and we'd get to take the day off from our chores. Although we each had a couple of big birthdays, it was tough to go all out in a family of 6 kids.
Usually we give our kids a budget that includes their birthday gift and allow them to plan their celebration. It's been interesting to see how they choose to spend their time and money, and I don't think there's anything wrong with letting them still have a hand in planning the festivities.
But in recent years, I've felt a disconnect from my kids. I'm not sure how it happened, but bit by bit I've felt that crack widen to a crevice to a small ravine and I want it to stop before it becomes a canyon or crevasse. Maybe I can trace the origins back to the separation during cancer treatments and surgeries for both Ty and I - all that time away from them, handing off the baton of childcare to Mr. O and extended family - but it doesn't really matter how it began, I'd like to mend it up and build some bridges across the gap.
One of the ideas I have, I know got its start from one of the blogs I read (please forgive me, I can't remember whose). Over the course of the year, we are spending time each month on or about the monthiversary date of each child's birthday with them - on a date with mom or dad or both.
Sometimes that date will be a quick run for ice cream, a dinner out, a trip to the bookstore or library, or sometimes it may just be going for a long walk with Copper. The idea is that it doesn't have to be some big event, but lots of opportunities for reconnections, for bridge building.
Last night was Ty's turn and since he's just had hip injections and is still feeling a bit sore to go out, I put the iPod on the speakers, turned it to Yanni (which I just discovered makes him laugh excitedly) and climbed up on his bed with him. Together we danced to the music, he grabbed my left arm with both hands and bounced it in time to the music, or just held my right hand.
Later, I pulled out a unicorn lollipop and gave him tastes of that alternated with sips of water (through a syringe). When we'd chilled sufficiently to Yanni, I switched over to our old standby Queen and broke out the Dr Pepper. He loved it and kept signing for more, I guess it's a genetic thing - this love for the Dr.
We snapped some photos and then Mr. O climbed up there and we broke out the fireworks app on the phone. You should've seen Ty go crazy with his fingers, drawing all over the place. We really should get him an iPad so he has a chance at seeing his handiwork but I'm afraid I'd have to chain it to his bed to keep the kids from losing it.
It was his night, and I think he had a great time. What do you do to stay connected with your kids?