I’m supposed to be doing an IT induction for a new member of staff, but they’re in a meeting. And they didn’t tell me. Nor did their manager. So, looking out the window, I can see smokers in their gulag (it really is like that episode of the IT crowd out there for smokers today) so it must be coffee break time.
My late mother-in-law had a fantastic relationship with her children. She managed to stay friends with them throughout all the trials and tribulations of growing up. She was, as my wife puts it in her eulogy, their best friend. Now I know, based on my relationship with my dad, that I’m fighting an uphill battle to remain best friends with my own kids through the years ahead, but it’s one I’m fighting. And I aim to win.
Back when my daughter turned 6 we laid down a challenge. Learn your times tables, 1-12 from 1-12 by the time you’re 7 and you’ll get a trip to London. We were in Shetland by then, so it wasn’t like we were popping up to London on the train every weekend. It was a big deal – early train down to London, see the sights, take in a show (The Lion King), do some museums, night in a hotel, back. Pretty damn cool.
When Thing2 turned 6, same challenge. My wife took him, they did the Imperial War Museum (he was on a Biggles fix at the time), went to see Mama Mia! They also had an absolute blast.
Thing3 turned 6 at the tail end of last year. We set him the challenge and he did it – it was touch and go for a while, as any parent knows who’s tried to get their kids to do what they see as “school work” during the holidays! We’re off on Saturday. I’m looking forward to the diplodocus in the Natural History Museum, the ravens in the Tower of London, Wahacca. He’s looking forward to…
(and so am I).
We’ve laid down these challenges – and the reward for succeeding, the kids have risen to them. There’s no punishment for failing, other than missing out on the trip their siblings have done. In a way, that’s an extra incentive to get the work done. I get to spend some quality time away with just one of the kids – unusual in itself.
It doesn’t have to be a massive trip away – hell, if you live in London you might want to take your kid anywhere else in the country! The key here is the time. The one-on-one time with you and whichever of the kids it is. You get to do stuff with them that is totally appropriate for their age and doesn’t also have to be appropriate for their older/younger siblings. You get to see life through their eyes. They have the kudos of spending this time with you, they get to lord it over their siblings. They get something to remember for years to come – something that will remind them that you’re their friend.