Saturday, March 26, 2011

Kids Gone = Lonely Weekend - Part 2

(Continued from March 19, 2011) ......... As the other two were departing, he told me that he and a few other musicians had planned to get together to work on a few songs. Not a bad idea, I thought, at least he’d still be home. Then he told me that the rehearsal would be at some other person's house!!!!

Well, alrighty again, I rushed home with big plans (of course, it would have been better had I actually shared the plans) and within an hour of arriving home, I was all alone with a couple of cheese-less pieces of pizza remaining! Not at all what I had planned!

Fortunately, I had about 20 hours of work-related tasks to complete during the weekend. So, finding myself all alone with no kids and no spouse, I hauled out the briefcase and got to work at the kitchen table. The whippersnappers arrived home at different times, but it was too late for a game of Scrabble or anything else, so we headed to bed.

On Saturday, with their work schedules, rehearsals, school dance, and studying groups, it became obvious that all four of us would not be in the house at the same time again. Ditto for Sunday!

Wow, I was certainly able to pound away at my work-related tasks all day and most of the night on Saturday and all afternoon on Sunday. We did have some foursome time together on Sunday, but nowhere near the entire weekend that I had envisioned.

So, what does it all mean? Well, many, many years ago, somebody told me that my little tykes would grow up, have activities of their own, and eventually move out of the house! Although we knew it to be true, we figured that we had a whole bunch of years to enjoy our kids and the time together before they began to break away.

Truth be told, we took that advice seriously and we spent as much time with our kids as was possible. Time at home on a daily basis, weekends together, and, of course, vacations together were the norm for us. We put aside many projects during the years to spend quality and quantity time with our kids. For example, a 20-hour work-related project on a weekend? That could have never happened when the kids were little. Now, out of necessity and schedules, it was easy to devote the time to the projects.

Yes, our kids have definitely been breaking away from the household over the past few years, making friends, working, going to college, playing in bands, being involved in school plays, etc. However, it took this particular weekend to have it hit home with me - a full weekend to devote to my kids and ..... NO KIDS WERE AVAILABLE!

(Please come back next Saturday for the final part!)

Paul W. Reeves

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Kids Gone = Lonely Weekend - Part 1

Ahhhh, coming home from being out of town and knowing that my wife would be out of town for the weekend at a conference, what could be better than an entire weekend to spend exclusively with my three whippersnappers (17, 20, and 23). Yes, it would be just like the old days, with dad giving up his entire weekend just to have fun with his three favorite kids!

Driving home, I could feel the excitement building in me, as I envisioned many hours of Yahtzee, Scrabble, perhaps some chess, a pizza or two or three, and, of course, the non-stop flow of popcorn!

Uh, well, instead of just planning a great weekend in my mind, perhaps I should have let my kids in on the plan. As it turns out, based upon a variety of unusual factors that came together all in one weekend, it turned out to be a somewhat different weekend than I had planned!

When I was about 30 minutes from home, I pulled over and texted all three kids with the message, “Anybody up for dinner?” My middle child wrote back to say, “I am the only one home – what did you have in mind?” OUCH! How could this be? Why weren’t the other two at home waiting for me like they did when they were 3, 6, and 9?

I called my son to discuss going out to dinner, just dad and his three kids. He loved the idea, but we would have to wait for the other two to get home – one of whom was still rehearsing for his school play and the other of whom was teaching dance.

About 45 minutes after I got home, my youngest son walked in the door and seemed excited to see me! I told him of our plans to go out to dinner and he told me the following, “Well, tomorrow is the big dance at school and *** and I are supposed to get together to make matching t-shirts? Fine, I thought, but at what time? He told me that he had to leave in about an hour.

DARN! If my daughter could get home soon, we could duck out for a quick dinner before my son had to get to his textile making project. Before long, my favorite daughter walked in. I told her of her of my great, terrific, and wonderful dinner plans to which she said, “Well, *** is home from the Coast Guard for the weekend and I had planned to spend some time with him.” DOUBLE OUCH! She told me that she had to leave soon.

Well, alrighty then, this was not working as planned! Going out to dinner was quickly canceled and we agreed to get pizza before two folks had to disengage from the home environment!

Ah, yes, I couldn’t wait for the pizza to arrive, so that the four of us would have at least some time together, just like the old days when it seemed as though we had pizza every Friday night! The pizza arrived and ……. THERE WAS NO CHEESE ON THE PIZZA! ......... OUCH #3!!!!

Wow, Friday evening was just beginning and I was about to quickly lose two kids and now no cheese?!?!? What happened to the good ol’ days?

We ate the pizza anyway and then my youngest and oldest prepared to depart the household., Oh well, I thought, at least I’d still have my middle child with whom to have some fun …… or so I thought!

(Please come back next week for Part 2)

Paul W. Reeves

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Kids' Activities - Let Them Try (5)

(Continued from March 5, 2011) ..... The overall point is not to boast about my daughter’s talents. The point is that we let our daughter TRY dance, as she had expressed a strong interest. Of course, she also expressed a strong interest in gymnastics, piano, softball, basketball, Girl Scouts, swimming, clarinet, and possibly 100’s of other activities – at least it seemed like it!

However, although we let her dabble in her chosen interests, we also made it clear that, as we had two other offspring and only two parents, she would have to make choices. Despite her desires, she would not be able to choose EVERYTHING as an option!

So, little by little, she whittled away activities from her list, until she was left with the world of dance and theater!

What if I had not taken my daughter to that dance recital when she was only three-hears-old? What if we had ignored her pleas to get involved in dance? What if we had just said no to her wishes? What if we had not encouraged her love of dance in the home?

If we had not done all of the above, it is clear that we would have destroyed her dream and, perhaps, her confidence with it. But, by saying yes, and keeping her other activities to a minimum, so that they did not dominate the family seven days per week, we were able to help her to learn, grow, develop, and excel in her chosen area.

So, although her name is not spoken in the same sentence as Beethoven and Ruth, she is on her way to a lifetime of fulfillment, helped along by the confidence and support that her parents gave to her!

So, let your kids try the activities in which they have an interest, within reasonable financial and time restraints and, who knows, maybe your child will grow up to be Ludwig Van Beethoven, George Herman “Babe” Ruth, …. or even a professional dancer with Broadway aspirations!!

Now, if she would only to remember to empty the cat litter between dance rehearsals …. ah well, a story for another day!

Yes, love your kids, spend time with them, help them in their pursuits, encourage them, and let them get out there and TRY IT – you’ll be glad that you did!

Paul W. Reeves

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Kids' Activities - Let Them Try (4)

(Continued from February 26, 2011) ...... They were in there for what seemed like forever. Finally, the door opened and the hopefuls started to pour out and walk past me. I kept looking for my daughter, but I could not find her in the single line of hopefuls. Where could she be? After about a minute of looking through the crowd of those who had just auditioned, the rehearsal door closed again.

Where was my daughter? She was still in the rehearsal room alone with about five instructors and directors for the upcoming show. Either she had been a very bad girl or she was about to win an audition!

She came out about 20 minutes later. She told me that they had said nothing, other than that they were impressed with her abilities. She told me that we could start our journey home.

I told her that it would be respectful of the process to notify the front desk that she was leaving. After she told them that she was leaving, they said, “Did they measure you, yet?” My daughter said no, so they told her to have a seat for a few minutes and they would take care of her.

My daughter asked me why they were measuring her. I told her that it sounded as though they wanted to measure her for costumes and it appeared as though she had won the job!

We were right on both counts. My daughter, the long-ago three-year-old with the eyes-glued-wide-open at her first dance recital, had just completed her first audition against about 500 total hopefuls, many of whom had auditioned on other days, and she won!

Yes, my daughter was about to begin rehearsal for a big-time show that would feature dancing, singing, and acting – her dream had come true!

Since that time, she has appeared in multiple shows, as her name is on the A-List for directors and producers to call! Yes, even though she is about to graduate from college with a degree in Education, she wants to fully pursue her dream of Broadway!

Wow, from an innocent Friday night at a dance recital many years ago to pursuing Broadway! Quite a gal, I must say!

So, am I about as proud as a dad can be of his favorite daughter (my only daughter!)? Absolutely! Are we glad that she is our kid? You betcha!

So, what is the overall point to letting your kids try various activities when they express an interest? Please come back next week for the conclusion!

Paul W. Reeves