As I have written before, this past year I picked up my teenage stepdaughter from school once a week and took her out to do whatever she would like. I did this whether she was at our home or her Mom’s. Our excursions were seldom spectacular in nature- a little Starbucks here, a bit of Target there.
Because it is summer and I am not teaching the load I normally do during the academic calendar, I offered to my 10-year old stepson that I would also like to begin taking him out for some one-on-one time. Perhaps not every week, but we could do it when we could.
When I spoke to him about this option, he looked at me with big eyes and said, “I have been waiting SO long for you to ask me.”
I was quite struck by this. I had been taking my stepdaughter out for some woman-to-woman bonding time. I had never imagined a 10-year old boy would be “waiting SO long” to spend some one-on-one time with his stepmom. I guess I was wrong.
On our first day, I picked him up from day camp and said, “The choice is yours, buddy. What do you want to do?”
He then listed, “Mini-golf, skee ball, Target, time at the river, and walking around downtown”.
I obviously overlooked telling him that one-on-one time included only ONE event per outing, not six.
So he thought about it some more and said, “I know where I want to go. Can we go to a gas station convenience store?”
Well, apparently they had a specific lemonade drink he wanted to try. So we did that and then walked around downtown for a bit.
Then on our next outing, we were in Target (yes, we live in a small town). I told him that I often bought his sister a treat to eat, so he could pick something out. I suggested a bag of Starbursts to share with friends as my stepdaughter often did or really anything he wanted.
He chose ….the 1- pound family size Stouffer’s macaroni and cheese dinner.
And I realized in this moment, how if we give each other some space, the possibilities that may evolve. Children, especially, are still open to seeing so many possibilities and options (which can drive a parent crazy when it is time to decide and check out).
What I have liked about this one-on-one time is the opportunities for possibilities to emerge. When we are all together and there is some other agenda happening, the possibilities are never even discussed, let alone recognized.
I have enjoyed this time with my stepson. He has shown me how to think in new ways and to respect that we may never truly know what another person wants until we ask. He has also taught me to think in possibilities and potential for something new.
And, hey, who wouldn’t want a 1-lb family size Stouffer’s mac and cheese dinner now and then? 🙂