We’ve just come back from a long weekend visit to our daughter and her family. She has three rambunctious boys under the age of 10. We had a wonderful time. The boys were happy to see us. However, I learned a very important lesson. One I knew as a mother but somehow forgot as a grandmother. What was it? The value and importance of individual attention.
When my girls were little, every now and then, I would wake one up early. With her eyes still blurry, I would lead her into the kitchen. Waiting for her was a counter filled with baking supplies.
Pushing a chair up for her to step onto, without a word, she climbed up. Her sleepy face would shine as bright as the sun peeking into the kitchen window. Then together we would make a batch of brownies, or muffins.
The rest of the children would come out one by one. The aroma of hot brownies has an amazing ability to pull even the grumpiest child out of bed by his nose.
We called those days our “brownie mornings.”
What made those mornings so special wasn’t what we did. It was the individual attention she received.
I remembered those days as I drove home.
As I was saying good-bye to my daughter we realized that her oldest son was in school. I had to leave soon. But if I did, I would miss telling him good-bye.
My daughter suggested I go see him at school. In a stroke of genius, we decided that I would pick him up early and bring him home as a surprise. This would give me the opportunity to say good-bye.
When I picked him up from his school’s office, he was indeed surprised. We took a small detour through a drive-up for a chocolate shake. As we headed home he talked about his dirt bike he was saving for and the day he had at school. All of a sudden, I realized, that I hadn’t really spent very much time with him at all.
He is the oldest. Often times when I’ve come to visit it’s been to welcome a new baby. Or we are there to see as many grandchildren as possible. He has almost always been one in a crowd.
Without giving a child individual attention, you’re really just herding them here and there.
It’s when we can get them away from the family unit, where their roles as son, big brother, little brother, and even instigator, evaporate. That’s when we get to see their true emerging personality come to light.
Double Bonus: They remember those days as fondly as if you had taken them to a theme park. Giving them a little individual attention says, “You are special. You are someone I want to spend time with.”