Festive Greetings Beautiful People

Wow, this year has flown. It feels just like a moment ago when I was saying “Happy New Year”. As we enter the festive season I would like to share something that happened to me this weekend.

As a single Dad I have my daughters come and stay with me every second weekend. They are ten and thirteen years old. They asked me what I was going to do with them this weekend when I picked them up from school on Friday. I said we will just “chill”. My oldest then said that when I say “chill” it means I will just be around and not actually be with them. I thought about this a bit and let it go for that moment.

On the Saturday I decided to take them out for lunch with the intent of “being present” with them. A date with Dad so to speak. It was lovely. They began to share some things about themselves that I never knew. How they were stressed about exams and that they were worried they may not get the high marks that they felt we (The Parents) expected of them. We had a discussion around this and I let them know they are loved not because of their marks at school because true love has no condition. They began to open up even more, talking about how they felt and saw things from their perspective. I listened without judgement and realised how much stress it took off their shoulders.

I used this opportunity to ask them how they felt about certain things in life, again without judgement, joking with my young teenager about boys and asking my youngest what it was like to be ten. I asked things that I don’t ask often enough, allowing them the psychological safety to respond honestly and openly without giving advice unless they asked. I came back from lunch feeling that much more understanding of how they saw the world and I noticed they were happy, really happy, that only a child can demonstrate, or maybe it was that I was truly happy, and this bounced off them.

On the Sunday I noticed that I was allowing myself to become distracted whilst they were swimming in the pool. They asked me to come join them, and I made some excuse about it being too cold. Then I remembered the Saturday conversation at Lunch when my oldest stated that adults spend more time looking busy and not playing like children. So, I put down my distractions and joined them in the pool. It was wonderful. The future was forgotten, the past left alone, and time was not felt. I joined them in the art of being a child – I was present.

Later that day I heard them playing Marco Polo in the pool and I wanted to join in. It had been a long time since I played Marco Polo. When I went to the pool and said I am coming to join them, without them asking me for my time, they both screamed with such glee and excitement I realized just how often I had not done this. It was so much fun.

As I write this I reflect on how I have bought them birthday and Christmas gifts that probably were a bit excessive to compensate for my guilt of not being there all the time for them. However, their reactions when they open their presents has not come close to the reaction when I gave them those moments of my presence on the Saturday and Sunday.

Of course, it is part of a child’s joy to open presents on Christmas Day, and I think most of us adults relive our childhood memories through them as they wake us up early on Christmas morning excitedly to open the presents, so in no way do I suggest presence replace presents entirely! I may have a revolution on my hands. I will though, through my new life lesson, be more mindful of the presence of a father required that day (and for any other day regardless) which presents cannot replace.

So dear readers, I leave you with this lovely quote by Shinichi Suzuki, a Japanese philosopher – “Children learn to smile from their parents”

I wish all of you a wonderful and, (of course) a presence filled festive season with your families.

With Much Love



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