Quality Time

There are many things that we could be giving the kids right now, but we’re trying to live as frugally as possible while the Webmaster is unemployed.  The one thing we can give them, though, is quality time.  And truthfully, the kid who needs it the most right now is… Ane.

I have been reading a book about siblings of autistic children, and it’s made me take notice of what Ane ends up being expected to do to help “care” for Tad.  While she definitely desires to be helpful, the Webmaster and I have to be careful not to take advantage of her, or demand that she be more independent than the average first-grader just because we can get so wrapped up in Tad’s needs.  And let’s not forget Rerun in all of this, too.  He gets plenty of attention as well.  So, between a baby brother who obviously can’t care for himself, and an autistic brother who draws more parental attention to himself, Ane’s been getting the short end of the proverbial stick.

So, we’ve been actively trying to give Ane more quality time, especially with the Webmaster.

He took her out to breakfast last Saturday morning at one of our favorite diners, where she got pancakes and “hot chocolate with whip cream on top and then, Mom, they put tiny M&M’s on the whip cream!”  She and her Dad got to share a meal together, and she probably talked his ear off.  But she had his undivided attention.

The other new thing that the Webmaster is doing is reading a long book to Ane.  Now, this is something that I’ve mostly done with her.  Whenever we’ve read a “long” (i.e. chapter) book, it’s been me doing the reading – mostly because I’ve picked all the books.  The Webmaster decided that he was going to read her one of his favorites, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, by Roald Dahl.  Ane and I have read Matilda together, so she isn’t unfamiliar with his work.  But Charlie isn’t probably a book I would have picked to read aloud to her.  However, she’s loving it, and she’s getting this reading time with her Dad.  As I pointed out to the Webmaster, “She’s probably not going to remember all of the books we’ve gone through.  But she’s going to remember that YOU read this book to her, and it will always be special for that reason.”

And while the Webmaster was reading to Ane last night, I was giving Tad and Rerun a bath.  Tad had his whale shark and one of his great white sharks in the tub, and was playing with them while reciting some of his favorite dialogue from his new favorite documentary, Ultimate Shark, while Rerun splashed around in the tub, babbled and contentedly chewed on his favorite bath toy, his blue rubber ducky (a gift from Ressis and Oddball).  After I got Rerun out, Tad had some alone time in the tub to play while I dried and dressed the baby, then handed Rerun off to his Daddy once he was done reading to Ane.  I then finished up with Tad, got him ready for bed, and since Ane was already tucked in and Rerun was with the Webmaster, I was able to give Tad my undivided attention – something I haven’t been able to do for a while – and read him two books and a Bible story, tucked him in, and sang a few of his favorite bedtime songs with him.  I realized how much I had missed doing that – we get so busy on certain nights that between getting the baby settled down and the older two ready for bed, quality time just gets lost in the shuffle of life.  And yet, Tad was relishing this chance to have me all to himself, doing some of the bedtime ritual that we had created so long ago, and I was just getting to enjoy my wonderful boy and all that he can do in a much more relaxed and peaceful way.

The truth is, Ane needs her Dad right now, because she’s getting old enough to establish a special bond with just him, and Tad still needs me, because I have the best understanding of him at this point.  I think we’ve been going about our “divide and conquer” strategy the wrong way.  Yes, Ane will still need me, I’m her mom – I understand her hair, the art of putting on tights, and when lip gloss is appropriate.  Tad needs his Dad to be silly with and roughhouse with.  But right now – I think they need a bigger dose of attention from the opposite gender parent.

And, of course, Rerun is still a BIG fan of his Mama.  That’s a given at his age.  But he does love his Daddy an awful lot, too.  And when his brother and sister are both at school – it’s all about HIM, and he loves it.

And we love him, too.  We love all three of them.  And the best way to tell them that is to give them more of the quality time that they need and deserve.

3 Responses to “Quality Time”

  1. Aunt Lynda
    November 17th, 2010 08:14

    Wise parents. Well said. You should be the ones going to the parent conference today instead of me. In this family, mom is in rehab, dad’s kicked out of rehab, and the cute little girl lives with her aunt, which is better than most foster homes.

  2. Ressis
    November 17th, 2010 12:31

    I remember Mom reading “The Chronicle of Narnia” to us as kids. When I read them as an adult, I was surprised how little of it I actually knew, but I knew she’d read them to us.

  3. Deanna's Corner » Blog Archive » A talk with Ane
    November 22nd, 2010 00:55

    […] week, the Webmaster took Ane out for some special one-on-one time.  On Saturday, it was my […]