Yo, VIP, let’s kick it! I know just what you need: parenting advice from Vanilla Ice. Hey, that rhymes! Maybe I’m a lyrical genius. OK, maybe not, but at times I do have a “light bulb moment” when it comes to raising my kids.
Recently, when putting my girls to bed, I found myself rushing through the routine as fast as possible. Why? Because I wanted some couch time. Yes, couch time. A rare moment at the end of a tiresome day, when the house is quiet and I can park my rear on the sofa and watch reruns of Full House – er, I mean, watch some professional sporting event.
So that’s why I was speeding through the routine of hugs and kisses from my sweet 8 and 6-year-old girls. I raced through prayers for friends and family, spouting the line-by-line requests to God faster than the Micro Machines spokesperson. I carelessly handed each of my girls their cup of water and started backpedaling towards the door. Just as the creaking of the hinges started sounding, it happened.
“Dad, guess what? I want to tell you something about today,” stated my oldest daughter with excitement. Now, mind you, she’s a pro when it comes to stalling bedtime.
“NO, it’s bedtime, go to sleep,” I sharply countered.
“Wait, but daddy, I want to…”
“I said go to sleep! It’s late.”
As I lightly slammed the door shut, I pictured the disappointed look on my daughter’s face. And for some strange reason I heard the voice of Vanilla Ice in my head. Is that weird?
OK STOP, collaborate and LISTEN! Yes, lyrics from the 1990 hit, “Ice Ice Baby.” It popped in my head at this random moment and I knew what I had to do.
STOP. COLLABORATE. LISTEN.
Take a moment. Pause. Just breathe. Yes, it’s been a long day of work, and then housework, and bills, and cooking dinner, and cleanup, and bath time. But understand the moment when your kids want to share something with you. Get your priorities straight when it comes to your family. Couch time should never take precedence over kid time.
Someday, there won’t be a bedtime routine. Your kids will be too old for that. No hugs and kisses, no songs to be sung, no giggles and story time. Don’t speed through the moments that really matter. Stop and recognize these priceless opportunities to be present with your kids. Someday, you’ll want to give anything and everything to have those moments back.
Most importantly, LISTEN to what your kids have to tell you – no matter how long their story is about recess or lunchtime. Your kids just want to be heard. They want your undivided attention. So focus on what they’re saying without thinking about the next day’s worries. Ask them a follow-up question and make them feel like they’re the most important thing in your life – because, truly, they are.
I opened the door and re-entered my daughter’s room that evening. I asked her to share her story with me. We laughed and did our secret handshake. I told her that she makes me smile everyday – which made her smile.
It ended up being a memorable and positive encounter with my adoring, impressionable daughter who is growing up way too fast.
And it only took an extra 4 or 5 minutes. How valuable is that time? I’d say it’s treasured more than a decade’s worth of gold chains and platinum pog slammers.
I never thought I’d say this, but in that moment, I was a better dad because of Vanilla Ice. Word to your mother.