Are you a ‘ Spontaneous Parent ‘?
Sometimes I’m a stick-in-the-mud.
The opportunity to do something exciting and new comes along, I have the money and time to do it, but I hesitate. I’m waiting for something. A sign from God, maybe? I don’t know. I want to be a spontaneous parent, but I don’t always feel spontaneous. Does that make any sense?
Do you ever find yourself saying No to something that the little voice inside you says, “What?!? Are you nuts!?! Say Yes! Yes! Yes!” But you ignore the voice and do the proper thing instead. You know. You put your head down and work more. You clean out the garage. Or at least you plan to. Whatever.
I think there is a voice inside of us, a stern father-figure, perhaps, that disapproves of spontaneous fun. It’s a guilty voice, I think.
It’s like when your serially irresponsible buddy says, “Hey, let’s hit Vegas for the weekend!” and you instantly say, without thinking, “No. Wish I could, but I’ve got grass to cut,” or something like that, even though you know that you really could go, that you probably need to go, to get away for a while and have some fun. And your significant other really wouldn’t mind, and might even enjoy a break from you brooding around the house this weekend.
Yet you said No. Why?
My ‘serially irresponsible’ buddy is my oldest son. And, in fact, he is no such thing, he just sounds like it when he says, “Hey Dad, I got a great idea! Let’s fly to Europe and just bum around for a month or so! We could stay in B&Bs and keep costs to a minimum. Just you and me, discovering Europe together. What do you say?” (He really does talk like that, BTW).
My son is being spontaneous, just like I taught him. And now I’m getting a taste of my own medicine.
Could we do this? Yes. I can work from anywhere. Would it be a good idea? You bet. I have always wanted to spend time in Europe, discover new things and get the lay of the land. It’s one part of the world that I am ashamed to say I have never visited. And the opportunity to spend extended quality time with my oldest – the first such opportunity since our trip to Costa Rica nearly five years ago – is priceless.
And yes, I did just return from a trip with my younger son to Panama (fantastic experience for both of us, by the way). But spontaneous parent opportunities present themselves when they want to, not necessarily when I am most prepared for them. Business has picked up lately, so we could probably swing another trip if we keep it simple.
Maybe he just wants quality time with Dad like his brother just got. Maybe I should put him off until next year, say, when the ‘travel fund’ will be more refreshed. Or, perhaps, I should just shut up and go?
What do you think?
What would you do if your kid hit you with the same suggestion, out of the blue? Would you think about it seriously, or just blow it off as the kind of things kids are always saying ’cause they don’t have to pay the bills. I mean, who’s going to feed the cat? What about the bills? Don’t you have a meeting planned sometime in there? Haven’t you promised somebody you’ll do something that would make such a trip impossible?
Sitting here, reading about this, now, it’s easy to say, ‘Of course we’ll go. My child is more important than these others things.’ But how often do we say that in everyday life? How often have your kids made a similar suggestion, and the sheer extreme-ness of its sound, in contrast to the everyday thing you were just thinking about, made you reject it, and them, out of hand?
How often do all of us miss opportunities because we are trained to work instead of to live? Ten years from now, will you even remember the garage cleaning you finally accomplished instead of spontaneously doing something with your kids? Is it more honorable to break your word to a friend to get that project done on-time, or to fail to be the best possible dad or mom that you can be?
Sometimes we can keep our word to everyone. But often we cannot. Our time is our most precious resource. And our quality time with our kids is the most important thing we can give them.
Our lives are usually full of commitments and schedules that keep us on time, but may also prevent us from doing what matters most. Schedules and personal commitments are important. But they probably don’t outweigh your child’s importance in your life.
Do yourself a favor. Pick up the phone, cancel one of those commitments, and spontaneously do something with your kid today. I promise you won’t regret it. I know I don’t.
All the best,
P.S. I’d love to hear about your spontaneous activities with your kids. And it doesn’t have to be bumming around Europe, either. Just a trip to the ice cream store is enough to create a special moment with that special little one. And big ones, too! So leave a comment or send me a note! Thanks!