Our kids need our focus ... our undivided attention. Not every time that they ask for it, but often. Let me tell you a story that brought this to life.
Our son was at soccer practice and not doing as well as he could. I heard his coach calling his name over and over again. I heard his coach saying things like "Pay attention" and "Why aren't you trying hard today?"
Thirty minutes before this practice started, we were at home, running late (as usual). He had lost his soccer ball... again. We looked everywhere and finally gave up and took his brother's ball.
When we arrived at the field, our son ran right out onto the field with his team. He was excited to be out there and even more excited to see his friends. Perfect day, right? Wrong.
Since everything seemed to be going great. During practice, I walked away from the field to take our other kids to the playground. It was close to the field and I could still hear and see what was going on in the practice. After about 10 minutes, we came back over to sit down and watch the rest of our son's practice. While sitting down, I realized that I had sat right next to a friend of mine... another parent on the team. We started talking and catching up.
That's when it started. The "Pay attention" and the "Try harder" comment. Then, he started goofing off. Instantly I was embarrassed. He wasn’t doing anything wrong... I was.
He was standing there looking and watching me talk. I could see it in his eyes, he was upset, almost disappointed at me that I was not paying attention to him. I was at the field for him, but not really THERE FOR HIM. Once it dawned on me, I immediately felt bad and now he was getting called out for it.
The rest of the practice I focused my attention on him because it was HIS practice. It was not the time for me to catch up with friends, nor the time for me to leave to push his siblings on the swings. That was stuff that I could do once his practice was over. This one hour was his... and he had asked me to take him and watch him. He deserved it and I said that I would, so I needed to hold up my end of the bargain.
For the rest of practice, when he made a good play, he looked over to me. He was waiting for me to give him a big ‘thumbs up.’ When he got knocked over by the biggest kid on the team by hustling and trying to get the ball, again he looked over at me. My reaction would curve his reaction. My attention would help his attention.
After we got home, I walked down to the mailbox to get the mail. Inside was a flyer for our local store. On the front of the brochure, was a picture of soccer goalie surrounded by his teammates. They were all smiling and pouring water over his head.
I sat there and looked at it for a few minutes. I thought about how it was a sign, a perfectly timed sign, as a reminder of my day with our son. Instead of showering WATER on his head, it would be our ATTENTION.
Parents, I know we get pulled in a thousand different directions. TRUST ME... I completely understand. Work, four kids, a house, two pets.... I get it.
However, we have to remember that our kids are always watching and looking at us, even when we don’t know it. They are making sure that we are their biggest fans... and we are, so lets show it.