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There’s spending time with your child and then there’s REALLY spending time with your child.

I pat myself on the back because I make time to play and talk with my 8-year-old on a pretty regular basis. Yeah, I’m not as great as I sound. The thing I didn’t realize is that I’ve been steering Alyssa to things I want to do and avoiding the things I don’t. For example, if she says, “Hey, Daddy, can we play Barbies together?” I’d say, “How about playing some Lego Marvel Super Heroes on the Wii U instead?” Classic ME. She doesn’t always get to play video games, so anytime I offer that choice, I know she’ll jump at the chance. It’s usually my “get out of doing that other activity card”…until this week!

On Monday, Alyssa asked me, “Can we decorate toy boats together?”

She had made an aluminium foil boat at school and wanted to add some color to it. She also had one for me to decorate. You guessed it…I tried the ole video game tactic. But, this time she said, “No, thanks.” She really wanted to decorate the boat.


So upstairs we went into her room to decorate the boats. We pulled out stickers, duct tape, and string and jumped in. Internally I was thinking “this room is a mess.” But then, something happened. My girl started talking like crazy and making believe with me. She shared things I never get to hear when we’re sitting in front of a screen.

It was a struggle at first, but I learned that entering my daughter’s world meant the world to her. When mom got home later that night one of the first things my little girl wanted to tell her about was how we decorated boats together.

Lesson learned.