It’s funny how life can teach you something when you least expect it. It’s one of those moments when you can’t quite word it yet but you can feel it. It’s that feeling when you can tell God is trying to tell you something if you only listen. Today was very much needed for the kids and I.
My kids can be antisocial. I call it a healthy dose of not liking people but I know it’s just being antisocial. Don’t get me wrong, they can communicate with people, but Raphael has social anxiety, and Serenity doesn’t do well with unfamiliar faces. Add the fact that they’re Daddy crazy (aka clingy) and you have the perfect storm of introverted children.
Today after their nap I was persuaded by MJ to take them to the park, where the neighborhood was celebrating the opening of the pool. I was debating whether I should take them or not because half of the park was under construction. MJ mentioned free food and I was won over. Hey, I have an inner greedy fat kid. Don’t judge me.
When we got there I was surprised by the turnout of people that were there. Food stands, music, a bounce house and more. As I was in full on parent mode, all I saw was the excitement on Raphael, Serenity, and Fitzgerald’s (their cousin) faces. They let loose and I was trying to make sure I kept up with all of them.
Hot dogs, chips, cookies, popcorn, and juice. 2 hours in the kids were happy and full. I noticed though that only Fitzgerald was going around socializing with the kids and playing. Raphael and Serenity were close to me because not only did they want to be, but I kept them close. So with that in mind I wanted them to enjoy themselves. I went to the kiddie pool with them and convinced them to put their feet in the water.
It wasn’t an easy task. After a lot of “No!”, “I don’t want the water!”, and “I want more cookies!”, we were sitting down side by side with our feet in the pool. With the music playing I started taking pics of us just smiling and enjoying the sun. Fitzgerald by this time, much to my dismay, was walking around the 12in deep pool talking, splashing and playing.
I grabbed him and pulled him back to my corner of the pool and told him to relax and sit. Raphael wanted to walk around the pool and Serenity wanted to dance and I was okay as long as they were close. The pool wasn’t that big but for some reason I wanted them by me. As I looked around the poolside I saw parents letting their kids play, run, scream, and enjoy themselves, and I wondered why couldn’t my children be the same way.
Seeing them wanting to play, listening to them plead with me to walk and dance in the water made me come to a realization. They weren’t being social because I wouldn’t let them. For some reason my desire for them to act civilized (aka act like they had sense in public) warped into them not doing much of anything because I’d be quick to pull them back and correct them. I also realized that I’m very overprotective of them. I could say being a single father made me this way, but how long could I use that excuse? I was trying to shield them from the world I wanted to learn about and as much as you can teach someone about riding a bike, they won’t fully learn unless you let the person get on the bike and ride it.
Finally, I let them walk around the pool. They danced, they splashed, their clothes got wet, but they were having fun and I couldn’t have been happier. We got in the bounce house and as I sat and put them on my Snapchat I couldn’t help but finally see that all they really wanted was to just be kids.
As we walked home I could tell they didn’t want to go, but I knew not only was it getting late, but they were tired. After baths, prayers, and Disney lullabies, they were fast asleep. I made a promise as I watched Serenity sleep that when I could make my financial situation a bit better, I’d take them to different events, movies, parks, and give them a chance to laugh, play, ask questions, and let their imagination flow freely.
They’re very well behaved, but at the same time they’re only children.
Life lesson of the day: In your desire for your children to be better than you, don’t take their childhood away.
Until next time,