“I’ll take the scrambled eggs and home fries, please”, I said looking at the waitress. And I want hot chocolate with whipped cream too!” My dad smiled at me from across the table as he placed his order. For a 10-year-old girl, I could really put food away. (Still can. It’s a gift, really.) The waitress walked away with our orders and I knew the question that was going to come next. “What do you want to be when you grow up?” There was a grin on his face, as he looked at me, because even though I knew he really cared, it was just the question he asked every time he took me out on a date. It was the question he asked all four of his kids every time he took them out on dates. I’m sure he laughed inside as he heard my answers that varied depending on the day he took me out. Some days it was a nurse, other days a mom, there may have even been a football player thrown in there every once in a while, but no matter what it was, he listened and cared. There was never a time when he told me to hold on because he had to take a call. Never a ding letting him know he had just gotten an email or a text. He never pulled out a phone to take a picture of us to instagram, letting the world know that he had taken his daughter out for breakfast again. #sheeatslikeaboy #scrambledeggsforthewin. It was just me and my dad. We ate. We talked. And I’m sure we laughed. I don’t remember every date, but I am sure we talked about the patriots, school, and I’m positive he asked if there were any boys I liked. He was taking me out on a date because he thought that’s what a dad should do to show his kids he loved them. He was taking me out on a date because he wanted to make sure we had time together without any other distractions.
It was just me and him. Not me, him and the rest-of-the-world-inside-his-phone.
When did we get to the point where we can’t even treasure times alone with our children without interrupting everything to take a picture so everyone can see what we are doing? When did we start focusing on the comments people will make when they see how sweet it is that my boy is hugging me, instead of just slowing down and enjoying a hug?
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think instagramming times with our kids is wrong. I have done it before, and I’m sure I’ll do it again. But maybe it wouldn’t hurt to really think about what we are doing and why we are doing it. What message is it sending? I’m sure you are with me when I say that we do not want to teach our kids to depend on the likes and comments of people to validate them. We do not want them to feel like their worth is dependent on how many followers they have. It takes some purposeful, intentional thinking to make sure we aren’t falling into a trap that might be in front of us. And it takes some self-evaluation to make sure we aren’t doing the opposite of what we are teaching our kids to do.
I want to challenge you to do something with your kids this week that is just because you want to do something with your kids. Not because you want people to know you’re doing something with them. Just love them to love them. Take them out, and keep your phone at home, or turn it off. Show your kids by your actions that they are the most important person to you. Let them hug you, make pizza with you, play games with you and have it end at that. It’s their time with you. It doesn’t have to be their time with you and your 500 followers. Just let it be about them. And then maybe ask them what they want to be when they grow up.
When my kids are grown up and retell stories about the dates we went on, I want them to remember the silly things we did, the games we played on napkins, and also the serious conversations we had. I want them to remember that I cared about them. period. I want them to remember that our time together was our time together. Let’s make our dates about them. Let’s give them dates without instagram…at least sometimes.