I strive my best to give my children a happy childhood. I strive to make it as memorable for them as possible. I want them to experience the best a parent can give. I want them to enjoy the things in life that money cannot buy. And I believe a happy childhood is more than just being surrounded by the creature comfort of this world. They are secondary to a few important things I have in mind. Personally I harbor a different interpretation of what happiness is for them. It is in fact more simple than one would normally conceive it.
In essence, I believe in the unembellished happiness in the everydayness of living. For this reason, many things a parent can give is absolutely free and exquisitely priceless. The concept here is stripped-bare affordable to all. It is therefore not in the showering of gift so much as it is in the company of the giver. The latter is what makes the biggest difference in the child's life.
Admittedly, I am a recovering paternal caregiver. My fatherhood has many holes to plug in this area. From hindsight, I can't say I have spent enough time with my three kids. And they are growing faster than I can count the days in the calendar and mark the stripes off the wall. I see them as coming to me like a precious heavenly gift to be unwrapped. I have to conscientiously take the time to unwrap them before they outgrow the infant parcel, break out from the adolescent box, and leave the teenage nest.
I don't want to miss those irredeemable moments to witness their first giggle, first word, first step, first self-potty, first tantrum, first smarty-pants moment, first full hug, first fight, first question, first day of school, first test result, first graduation, first argument, and firsts of everything. I must understand intimately that fatherhood counts most in the growing years when the learning experiences are most steep and when they need me most. It is during such scaffolding moments that make my presence and active participation crucial for them and personally enriching for me.
So, I must regularly remind myself of this basic principle of fatherhood, that is, showing up for your kids.
The second principle is the gift of marriage. This is one gift that speaks louder than words. I sincerely believe that there is no gift to my children greater than the gift of a strong and passionate marriage. Of course this is not to say that I am keeping the flame of this union alive just because of them. It is something personally sacred to me because this is my first love and the love that enables and realizes everything else in my marriage. It is foundational to all things that come after that. So, my marriage should be given first priority and it is this priceless and timeless devotion that makes it a gift that transcends all that I can give to my children materially.
I cannot see a better way to bless my children with than to let them witness for themselves our overcoming of whatever that life throws at us in the marriage. For this overarching purpose, I must always endeavor to put my marriage first, before my ego, pride, mood, conceit, indulgences and selfishness. I anticipate it is going to be tough but then, I do have a lifetime to get it right.
My last principle is fun. And there is no more enduring fun than the fun of everyday. I believe that you can plan for a big holiday and wait in anticipation for that day but forget about having fun in the many days that lead up to it. This is unfortunate because the majority of our time passes us by during the long wait.
I believe that making time to have fun with your kids is unlike the gazetted holidays. They are not special days of celebration that happen only on selected days of the calendar year. Everyday is an open, free-range opportunity. It boils down to whether you as their parents are prepared to offer them the time, attention and the springy spirit of mirth. It costs nothing from us actually.
My wife is an expert when it comes to going bananas with my kids. She would engage them in the silliest ways imaginable. She would joke, tease, tickle, laugh, squeeze, rummage, takedown, sing-along, read and recite nursery rhythms to them. Her energy knows no bound. Of course, I am more reserved and protocol-minded. But in my own ways, I would engage them. This is not without some reservation on my part. The tough part is the mismatch of energy between my kids and I.
Coming back from work, jaded and drained, the last thing I want to do is to clown around with them. However I understand its significance. Sometimes I have to fight the sulk. I have to loosen myself up before I could get into the mood. But I guess the rewards are there as the bond deepens between us. If parenting is about putting more into the emotional bank of trust and love than we take out from it, then every engaging play with them is a deposit for the long run. And it is a seed planted to build a resilient relationship that my children can draw hope and strength from whenever they need to in their maturing years. Cheerz.