For the past few years, this has been the question from my boys whenever there is a change in our daily routine--when we've come home late or have been traveling. Usually, the answer is a grudging yes. Invariably I have list of things to do that could easily take me into the early morning hours and I am itching to get started. But before I can do that, there must be: Time Together.
They don't mean time together, which might include cleaning his room or washing the car together. They don't even mean me reading a story to them. They mean Time Together and this has a very specific meaning. Time Together, which is always 15 or 20 minutes before bed is when we play (even if we play together earlier in the day that doesn't count as Time Together--it has to be before bedtime). With Elijah, most of the time we are playing the inscrutable games of childhood, stories involving his stuffed animals or his My Little Pony collection, which I often have a hard time following. It can be very frustrating trying to make sense out of and keep up with a nonsensical game. With Ezra, we'll play similarly opaque games with his Hot Wheels cars, do jigsaw puzzles, or color. I've tried suggesting activities that I might enjoy more (like the above mentioned reading them a story) but these ideas rarely meet their criteria for Time Together (one exception is that both boys are more than willing to count watching videos or playing Farmville or other games together on our devices, but in the end I think we all sense that this isn't really true Time Together).
Elijah has had Time Together for years now, but Ezra has only become involved in the last year or so. On most nights, the goal is that I have Time Together with one son while the other is reading with their Mom, and then we switch. Elijah prefers this as Ezra doesn't play the games the way Elijah likes. On occasion, if Babs is away in the evening, or she is unable to be with the other child for some reason, both sons have their Time Together at the same time. Ezra likes this, although he often wants to do his own thing so I ended up literally doing two different activities with the boys at the same time--solving a jigsaw while at the same time solving a mystery with the Ponies, and both boys getting annoyed if they feel I'm not paying proper attention to their activity.
|From our Time Together tonight, December 11, 2016. Usually we are in their bedroom but for someone reason they wanted to come out to the living room. Maybe it was the tree?|
Honestly, while I love being with my sons, Time Together can be a little stressful.
Time Together fell away for awhile when Elijah started first grade. Elijah was staying up later, While his little brother was being put to bed, he did his homework, and then had cozy time with his Mom while I spend valuable time on my school work--planning for the next day and entering grades. There wasn't really time for Time Together, and he voiced no complaint. But I found I'd begun to miss that Time. So, one night while Barbara was in the boys' room with Ezra, I called Elijah over to the living room for some Time Together. His eyes lit up with joy. He raced to his room to gather an armful of stuffed animals so the playing could begin. His happiness was undeniable; our Time Together was back! And so it's been more or less a part of our schedule again since.
I guess I realized that our Time Together is limited. There will come a day that they'll lose interest in that kind of Time. While playing together brings them so much joy, I feel I can't afford to miss a single minute of our Time Together.
And what's true of Elijah, Ezra and me, is true for all those we love. It's important to have that Time Together.