3 Things by Steve Wiens, Stevewiens.com
*This post is part of our special week-long Father’s Day series, featuring notable Dad writers.
Our kids love toys. But they love one-on-one attention even more.
With three young boys, our house is a combustible combination of noise and speed, with the inevitable crashes that rattle the windows alongside our nerves.
We have heard about parents who savor the quiet moments with their kids, while sipping chardonnay and chopping the organic vegetables that they’ve just picked, with their kids, from the garden in their perfect back yard. We get about one of those moments, per kid, per year, and it’s usually when they’re asleep.
Last year, I took one of the boys to the doctor because he had very strange rash. As soon as we got into the Golden Eagle (you must name your mini van if you have one), he lit up. He kept saying “it’s just you and me, dad. It’s just you and me.” The rash turned out to be insignificant, but the time together was priceless.
Fast forward to this year. The same son and I were sitting together at the breakfast table, and he stopped eating. He smiled and looked at me. Then he said:
“Can you take me to the doctor again, daddy?”
Our kids love it when we carve out time and spend it with them one at a time. And we have learned that we love it, too.
So my wife and I decided that instead of giving them presents for their birthdays, our gift to them would be one whole day, with just mom and dad and the birthday boy. We plan activities, food, and affirmations that are planned specifically according to what that boy loves.
One of our sons loves Legos, so we took him to Brickmania; a place filled with impossibly imaginative Lego structures. The builders even wander around, joyfully pointing out features that you might have missed. We also took him to a pizza place where the servers wear superhero capes, and he got to drink root beer out of the bottle.
Another one of our boys loves trains and art, so we took him on the light rail, then to this cool shop that lets kids do art and get brazenly messy. The last stop was the zoo, where we got to see a giraffe, his favorite animal (that part was very smelly, incidentally).
Our third son loves people, and he mentioned that he wanted to go to a “fancy French café.” So we invited two of his very favorite people, and went to a very fun and funky French restaurant, where he ate pommes-frites and drank Chocolat Chaud, all the while flirting shamelessly with our server, who fell madly in love with him.
One of our babysitters taught us how to make homemade “cards” which our boys love (think lamination without a laminator).
Here’s how it works: Let your kids pick something out that they love (Ninjagos, Jake the Neverland Pirate, Buzz Lightyear, etc.), and then do a Google image search of that particular thing. Once your child has picked out an image that s/he likes, simply print it out.
Once you’ve printed it out, cut it out, and then cover both sides with several layers of packing tape. Then, carefully cut it out until you have a “card” which your kid will love (until they want to print out another one, of course).
If your child is old enough, obviously they can cut it out themselves (we’re not there yet). We’ve done dozens of these.
It’s a fun way to do an art project together, and it’s free!
These “Y-Bikes” are perfect for kids ages 2-4.
Our kids love them, and everywhere we go, everyone asks, “Those are so great! Where did you get those?”
You can get them here.