Kelly: Appreciating when the students teach the teachersWritten by Guest Author | | GuestAuthor@toledofreepress.com
Family is one of the most important and difficult things you’ll ever experience in life. It is something I have learned to appreciate more and more as I’ve gotten older. I’ve learned many lessons about its importance but I never thought during my life, my own children would teach me some of the most important lessons.
On Feb. 10, I decided to take my 5-year-old daughter to PizzaPapalis to get some pizza. They were open on a Monday, which they usually aren’t, to raise money for the families of the two Toledo firefighters who were killed in a fire — Pvts. James Dickman and Stephen Machcinski. I thought it would be a good idea to take her because there was a lesson about helping others that I needed to expose her to.
Any time I get alone with my kids, I love to talk to them. During our ride to the restaurant she said to me, “Daddy, we need to spend more time together. Just me and you — nobody else.”
I have to be honest, when I heard that, it kind of tore me up.
I know that my job takes up a lot of my time, and when you add to that the fact that I have two other little kids (3 years and 7 months), a wife and a new puppy, it doesn’t leave me a lot of one-on-one time with any of them.
I’ve always had a goal to be hands-on as a dad. Meaning, I didn’t want to be the kind of dad who didn’t show up to their kids’ events, or didn’t spend time with them. I wanted (and want) to be the kind of father who has a great, close relationship with his kids. And as I heard my daughter telling me she felt like she didn’t get enough time with me, I saw that goal receding into the distance. I had to stop it.
My daughter — at 5 — just taught me that no matter how busy life is, you need to make time for your kids individually. Wow.
This wasn’t a new lesson for me, but what was new was that the message was coming from my daughter, not me.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve spent alone time with my kids, but lately that time has been more shared than individual. Apparently, the decision to do that carried more weight than I had thought.
After speaking with my wife, I came up with a plan. I told my oldest daughter that one day next week I would pick her up from school and we would spend the rest of the day together. We would go wherever she wanted, and after that we would eat together — without anyone else.
Immediately I saw her perk up and get excited. She started getting giddy with me and acting like we were best friends. I was overjoyed.
After I had that talk with my oldest, I told my youngest daughter that I would spend a day with her all alone, too. I started making daddy-daughter plans.
As a parent I think it’s really important to take time out to listen to your children and really pay attention to their behavior. Once you do that, you can figure out what’s really going on with them.
Maybe they’re not eating, not playing as much or getting in trouble more than usual. It may be that they’re doing those things just to get your attention. If my psychology degree has taught me anything it’s that people will do just about anything to get attention from other people. When you add the competitive environment of siblings in a family, you’ve got the perfect recipe for abnormal behavior.
All of this can be fixed just by slowing down and paying attention. Hopefully, if you’ve not let too much time go by, your kids can tell you how to fix things — like my daughter did. If not, you’ll have to do some digging. Whichever way you discover the problem, my point is never stop trying.
It’s so easy to give up and not try when you’re overtired and your kids want to play. Don’t. That’s where you’re going to get yourself into trouble. If you want great kids you’re going to have to put in the effort, just like everything else worth obtaining in life.
Trust me, I know firsthand that being a parent and having a job is a really hard thing to do. But whatever you do in life, don’t ever discount the fact that your very own family could hold the answer to the problem you’re having with them. All you have to do is be willing to listen, and be someone they feel comfortable talking to. If you have those down, you should be
Sid Kelly is host of “The Morning Rush,” weekday mornings on 92.5 KISS FM.