Before You Turn Out The Lights

Photo taken by Rodion Kutsaev
Photo taken by Rodion Kutsaev

Stayed at work later than usual. By the time I got home, my wife, who was sick, was asleep and my kids were playing on their mobile devices. I quickly went upstairs to give them each a kiss before heading back down to change and prepare for bed. It had been a long day and I was exhausted.

I needed just a few minutes to simply decompress and unwind before heading back up. Hoping and expecting that I would have this time to myself, I sat down at the kitchen table. I read somewhere recently that introverts recharge by way of silence. I am an introvert. I think.

So when I heard little footsteps coming down the steps, I’m embarrassed to say, I was actually a little irritated. All I wanted was a few minutes to myself after a busy day.

But then I looked up. And saw my four-year old, shirtless sockless son heading towards me. He was wearing a pair of dark blue sweatpants that were just a bit too small. Then I was hit with

Daddy, I haven’t played all day and all I’ve been doin’ is playing on the computer and can we play just a little bit? It’ll be fun.

I couldn’t resist. We went in our playroom and began playing our version of indoor soccer. His goal is the old television that I’m too lazy to move out of the room and my goal is an old Fisher Price house. We always have a blast. He laughs and giggles and I usually let him score at will, just because it’s so adorable to witness his delight.

After a few minutes, my daughter came down to join us. We played another five or ten minutes before I had to tell them we needed to head up. They went on up as I finished my normal bedtime routine. Loading the dishwasher. Cleaning the sink. Prepping the coffee maker.

Just when I was about ready to head up I hear a little voice 

Daddy, can you read me a book?

Derek…

Daddy…

Sure…

To top it all off, it was an ABC book. How can you say no to reading an ABC book to a four-year old?

You can’t.

We sat on the floor. I had him point to the words as I read them. It was actually quite an adorable book. It was narrated by a moose, or some large animal, that kept crossing off the words, just to be funny. About halfway through the alphabet my daughter must have realized that we hadn’t made it up yet. So she joined us. Again.

She had been upstairs creating songs with a new app that she just downloaded. And she wanted to play them for us. Why not, I figured? I had to support her enthusiasm and eagerness to create. They were actually pretty cool. I mean I don’t think they are available on iTunes yet, but so what?

Forty-five minutes later than I had planned, I went upstairs. We went upstairs. I turned off the lights. And we all went to sleep.

What if I had said no to my son when he first came down? In all honesty, sometimes I do. But I didn’t on this night. And I’m glad I didn’t. What would have probably amounted to ten or fifteen minutes checking my Twitter feed, ended up being forty-five wonderful minutes with my kids.

They were eager.

They were excited.

And they wanted to be with me. Share with me. Play with me.

This window isn’t always open. So when it is, I must take advantage of it.

The same holds true during the school day. There are going to be times when children are eager to share with us. Let them. Maybe it’s not in the lesson plan. Well guess what? Maybe what we had planned wasn’t in theirs’. But they listened to us. Put up with us.

Excitement is hard to fake and once it’s extinguished it can be hard to rekindle. We must become vigilant caretakers of our students’ flames. I for one, know that I have allowed a few to burn out, simply because I felt that I was the only one carrying the fire.

Hmmm.

All this from a little shirtless sockless four-year old.

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