Just be present.

S ANDRA made a comment on one of the previous blog posts: “you just have to be present”. It was in the context of parenthood and appreciating the moment you’re in.

I’d like to share a story related to this. But first, a few things:

Firstly, I’m recognising, as a parent, just how important being present is.

I’m no guru on parenthood. I get a lot of things wrong. So bear with me – all those who have walked the road previously… this blog is an cathartic exercise.

Secondly, if there’s one thing I hear often about today’s children, it’s that there’s a general inability amongst them to listen. To concentrate. Anyone who is even vaguely involved in education knows this.

It’s a symptom of home life. We don’t engage our children – our televisions, computers and gaming stations do.

I know the challenges. There’s always something else that has to be done. As parents you get home after a long day at work and you have to get dinner going… the easiest thing is to put the TV on to entertain the kids. It really is the easiest thing.

The other day, I opted not to turn on the TV. Tam was out and I was “it” on the dinner front. Instead of joining their world of passive staring and listening, I invited them into my world of engagement and activity. So I asked, “Do you guys wanna help me make dinner?”

The excitement could be heard neighbourhoods away. You would think our kids are deprived of attention or something.

We made crumbed chicken and steamed vegetables. The kids took turns pouring oats and spices into a blitzer, and then pressing the button. Shrieks of delight. They rolled the chicken breasts in olive oil and coated them with the crumbs. They helped chop the potatoes, broccoli and carrots. It took all of 15 minutes and an extra bit of energy. I caught glimpses of their day while we spoke and worked.

Once dinner was under the grill and on the boil, I asked them to tidy their room before eating dinner. “Okay dad.” No protest, no excuses. They happily went and did it.

Happy children, peaceful home… all a man wants. Lesson learned: just be present.

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