A Note for my daughter, Tatum

Dear Tatum,

If ever I were to pass and did not get the chance to share our stories, there are some things I would like you to know.

You are 6 and I am 38 as I write this and I’m hoping we both live for many many more decades.

But you never know.  Life can be unpredictable.  That’s why we all need to be grateful for each moment that we have.

So, in the event that I leave you at a way too early age, these words are for you.

Our favorite game to play is called Count to 10.  I go in my room and count to 10 while you go and hide in your bedroom.  I come in and find an animal to talk with and ask, “have you seen Tatum”?  The first animal always tells me that you are in Reece’s room.  I ask the animal to stay put, not to move an inch, while I find you.  I search Reece’s room and of course, you are not there.

When I come back to the room the animal has moved to a different spot.  I get mad and say they are going to be in trouble, then I grab a second animal and try to find you again.

This goes on for a few times.  The animals tell me you are in my room, the laundry room, the bathroom, sometimes even downstairs.  Finally I realize that the animals all have the same voice and I start to ask them questions.  One of them or sometimes all of them will show me where you are hiding by pointing in your direction.  I finally find you and tickle you and carry you to the tub.  That’s our pre-bathtime game.

We also love playing a game called Pretend I need to take a Nap.  This is one where you crawl under the covers and I pretend to not know where you are.  I yawn and say ” I could really use a nap, I think I’ll lay down before putting Tatum to bed.”  I lay down on the bed, feel something that should be as soft as a pillow but feels hard like a body, and start to tickle feet and tummies.  I always then say, “hey, this isn’t a pillow, this is a Tatum!!!”

We love that game.

You also love playing in the bath.  You always ask if you can play in the bath while I’m getting your clothes ready.

 

tatum-and-me-reading

 

I always say yes.  Another thing you love to do, especially when Mommy isn’t home….ssshhhh……, is come downstairs after I put you to bed.  Sometimes I will put on movies like Star Wars and Empire Strikes Back when you come down.  You even like documentaries.  Actually, you really like documentaries.  Especially when they include animals.

Without question, our most favorite time together is when you go to bed.  Almost every night we ask a series of questions.

What are you grateful for?

What are you proud of that you did today?

Are you sad about anything?

What are you happy about?

I record it on my watch and then we listen to it.  You crack up!  You’re a funny little girl.  A handful at times. But still a funny little girl.  It’s impossible for me to stay mad at you.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot.  Just before bed.  Every single night.  Just as I am walking out of your room, you ask me the following questions.

“Daddy, what if I have to use the bathroom?”  Then use the bathroom I reply.

“Daddy, what if I have to ask you a question?”  Then ask I question.

“Daddy, what if I have to do both?”  Then do both.

“Daddy, what if I need to make a statement?”  Then make a statement.

As I’m walking out the door, “Good night Tatum, I love you.”  I love you too, dad, you reply.  It’s the best part of my day.

We have a lot of fun together.  The idea of being without you or you being without me makes me incredibly sad.  I hope and hope and hope that it is a very long time before we have to go through that.

I love you, Tatum.  With every ounce of my heart.

Daddy.

10 Ideas for a Better Bedtime for Kids

Empowering our Youth

 

Tatum and I have a little ritual.  Lately, I’m sad to say, she has been better at keeping up with it than I have been.

Each night, after the bath and the teeth brushing and final potty trip and the book, Tatum will crawl into bed and ask, “Daddy, what are you grateful for today?  That is always followed up with, “and daddy, what are you proud of that you did today?”

I freaking love it.  It’s a good habit to get into.  It allows us both to reflect on something we have gratitude for as well as something that makes us proud.  What a great way to drift off into sleep!

Sometimes I’m too much of a grump to initiate the conversation.  Sometimes I just want to say goodnight and run out of the room as quickly as I can.  I’m not happy to admit that but it’s the case.   Luckily I have her to keep me in check.

So I started thinking, what are 10 Habits a 5-year old can start at bedtime?

 

Reading to Tatum

Tatum and I reading when she was 3

Here are my 10 ideas.

 

1. Read a book every night.

Try to read a book to them every night.  I believe this helped my stepson, Reece, read quicker than he would have otherwise.  It also seems to have impacted his love for books because you will rarely catch him without a book in his hands.  He is a rare kid that seems to carry books more often than his iPod!  Read with enthusiasm!  Put on a show and watch them glow!

2. Say something you are grateful for and something you are proud of.

This allows them to reflect on their day.  It also gets them in the habit of being grateful which will always be beneficial.  Finding something they are proud that they did today will help them appreciate themselves and maybe even encourage them to do more things they are proud of tomorrow.

3. Say something that you did that failed.

We all want our kids to be perfect.  But they are going to need to take chances and risks.  Dealing with failure will only help them as they grow into young men and women.  It’s a good idea that they learn to accept failure and think of ways to overcome them and how to avoid them the next time a similar situation arises.

4.  Talk about a goal you have for tomorrow.

Is is too early for kids to have goals?  I don’t think so. Why not get them started on this habit early?  A goal could be something as simple as using a teacher’s name when they say good morning.  Or ask a friend how they are feeling today.  Not only does it get them in the habit of setting and achieving goals but it could also get them using good people skills.

5. Make a drawing of something.

For adults, just before bedtime is a good time to write down a few things in a journal.  For kids that are still learning how to write, bedtime could be used as a time to express how they are feeling through coloring or drawing.  We’re not looking to color within the lines of a coloring book but rather a free for all drawing or picture.  A way for them to express whatever they are thinking about.

6. Say an Inspirational Quote.

I love quotes.  Positive and inspirational quotes are whispers in your ear that remind you that anything is possible.  There is an abundance of everything that we want in this world for us to have and to share.  I see no reason why we shouldn’t be teaching our young children that this is so. Maybe start with this one….

 

Encouraging-Quotes

 

7. Give 1 ideas as to how you can help someone else.

Get them thinking about ways they can help others.  Maybe a friend is sick and they think of the idea to bring them soup.  Maybe his teacher needs help rounding up her students for quiet time and he can help.  It isn’t really important what they think of, just that they get in the habit of thinking of different ways they can help others.

8. Talk about 1 place they want to visit.

This may be my favorite.  Our children cannot think that the world only consists of their house and town.  Whether it be a small town like the suburb I live in or the biggest city in the country.  When I was 21 I drove across the country, PA-OH-IN-IL-WI-MN-SD-WY-MT-ID-WA-OR-CA.  It was one of the greatest 2 weeks of my life.  My wife and I have taken our kids to Mexico, Puerto Rico and the Bahamas and there is still so much to see.  Show them pictures and get them thinking about where they want to visit.  And then find a way to make it happen!

9. Talk about 1 book you would write.

Writing a book is easier now than it ever has been before.  Sure, it might just be an eBook, but it’s simple to do.  The hardest part is putting the time in to do it.  Most 5 year olds aren’t writing books but that doesn’t mean they can’t use that creativity muscle to think of books they would write!  Just ask them and let their little minds wonder.  Who knows what they’ll come up with!

10. Just hug and say I love you.

OK, I went easy on this one.  Of course this is a good idea.  But it’s one we can’t forget.  Sometimes Tatum will call me back in after she is in bed and ask for another hug and kiss.  The answer is always  yes.  We should always find the extra 30 seconds for another hug, kiss and an I love you.  Think of how nice it is when someone says those words and shows that type of affection to you.  I can’t imagine any better way to say goodnight than that.

 

What do you think? Could you use any of these ideas for your bedtime ritual?  What other suggestions do you have?

 

Please feel free to leave a comment and share this post.  Thanks!

My name is Keith Laskey. I actually believe children are our future. I write articles about how we can empower our youth so that the world will be a better place for all of us.

National At-Home Dad Network Featured Blogger

Abandoned. Chosen. Special. What Parents can Learn from the Childhood of Steve Jobs.

Empowering our Youth

 

 

Do You Still See your Dad?

 

I was picking up my stepson today at baseball camp.  There were a few boys sitting close by whom I recognized.

One of them said I looked familiar but he couldn’t think of where we knew each other from.  I knew right away.  It was a boy that I had coached in baseball a few years ago.

His parents were going through a difficult time during that season.  Their was a lot of anger between them.  So many hard feelings that they couldn’t even be around each other.

I never got the entire story on their relationship but it was obvious the parents had no future.

I would see him again from time to time over the course of the next few years.  One day I saw him playing in my neighborhood. It turns out his father had met and fallen in love with a girl who lived in the same circle as me.  She had a daughter about a year younger than him.

They eventually had a son of their own.

It has been a couple of years since I last saw my young friend.  I asked him today if he still hangs out in my neighborhood.  His answer was upsetting.  “No, I don’t see my dad anymore.”

I can run through a list of reasons as to why that may be.  Maybe it was the mother’s fault.  Maybe it was the father’s fault.  Maybe there is a new man in the mother’s life or maybe it was the fault of my neighbor who his father had fallen in love with.

I have no idea what led to this little boy not seeing his dad anymore, I can only guess.  But I can’t think of too many scenarios where this is a good thing.

I learned at a very young age that you should never ask a female if she is pregnant.  Are we at the point now where we can’t ask a child if he still sees his father?  I hope not but that sure is how I felt today.

 

Abandoned.  Chosen.  Special.

 

family-434708_640

 

 

I’m reading the Walter Isaacson “Steve Jobs” autobiography.  Isaacson tells a story that Jobs relayed to him from his youth.  Jobs knew at a very young age that he was adopted.  When he was about 6 or 7, he was talking with a girl who lived across the street.  She asked, “so does that mean your real parents didn’t want you?”

Jobs describes lighting bolts going off in his head.  He ran home crying to his parents.  What his parents told him would shape Jobs for the rest of his life.

Here is an excerpt from the book.

“I remember running into the the house crying.  And my parents said, ‘No, you have to understand.’  They were very serious and looked at me straight in the eye.  They said, ‘We specifically picked you out.’  Both of my parents said that and repeated it slowly for me.  And they put an emphasis on every word in that sentence.”

Isaacson continues…

Abandoned. Chosen.  Special.  Those concepts became part of who Jobs was and how he regarded himself.

I think we can take a lot from this.  You never want to make a person feel abandoned.  As a stepparent or a parent of an adopted child, it is your responsibility to chase away any thought like this.  Even if a child has been abandoned, we need to make them feel chosen and special.

 

You have the Power to be a Superhero to Young People!

 

I often tell my stepson, Reece, that I married his mother in many ways because of him.  As soon as I met him I knew he was special and I chose to spend the rest of my life with him.

I like to think this has done wonders for our relationship.

Abandoned.  Chosen.  Special.

We’ll all feel abandoned at some point in our lives.  There isn’t much we can do about that.  But we have the power to make the young people in our lives feel chosen and special.  And we should use that power as often as we can.

 

My name is Keith Laskey. I actually believe children are our future. I write articles about how we can empower our youth so that the world will be a better place for all of us.

National At-Home Dad Network Featured Blogger