I was sat in a coffee shop the other day when a dad came in with his little kid. She must have been about 4. THey sat down, he asked for menus and helped her choose her breakfast (pancakes with exxxxtraaaa berries pleeesse).
Then for the next 25mins they just sat and chatted. He told her about his work and the people in his office. She explained at length why her new best friend was Sam not Lizzy. (oh no, Lizzy is meeaaan).
Their breakfast came and was eaten while the convesation continued. That dad spoke to her with such respect and interest in what she was saying that it made me notice them!
He didn’t once touch his phone and she didn’t want to play that game on his iPad. They just chatted.
I’m not sure how much she understood of what he said about his work colleagues’ presentation that was due today, but I am sure she got that she was important and listened to right then and there.
It got me thinking though – how often do we assume kids need ‘entertaining’ with technology? How often might we instead just sit and chat and find out more about their lives and thoughts (and often they are quite hilarious – bonus!)
I’ve done this too – brought along toys and iPads and books to a coffee shop when I’m babysitting little kids or I’m asked to teach a class at the last minute. Perhaps I shouldn’t. They are little for such a short time that I’m going to try and spend more of it actually present with them, rather than the ‘absent-presence’ that technology can create.
I don’t think that the dad I saw will ever know I over-heard him interacting with his daughter so beautifully. He’ll never know that he inspired me to think about how and when I pull out the iPad – but I’ll thank him here anyway. Nice one, mate.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this – when do you have the best chats (and insights) with your kids?