I've been taking my kids to coffee, one child per week, for the past three months. At the time of writing Sydney is 8, Savannah is 5, and Elliot is 3 years old.
The point of this exercise is to enjoy each others company, one-on-one, and nothing more.
But there have been... unexpected benefits.
This week was Elliot's turn. He started asking on Monday if it was "coffee day" and asked right up until Thursday (which is coffee day). When I woke him up that morning, he opened his eyes and smiled immediately. He had been expectant and hopeful all week, and he knew this was his day.
There are some questions that float in and out of the routine. "What's your favorite show on Netflix?" or "Has Mommy been being a good girl while I'm at work?" I just want him to feel like I'm interested in his world.
But there are 2 questions that I've gotten into the habit of asking and I don't intend to stop. "What makes your heart happy?" and "What makes your heart sad?"
This week Elliot answered that he was sad when he had to take a nap and he was happy when he went to the pool. I tried to empathize, while secretly coveting his daily naps.
But Then The Tables Turned
Once he was done answering, he took another bite of his muffin, and then he asked me my own questions. He started with, "Daddy, what makes you sad?"
My brain frantically searched for the right answer, I mean... he's 3 years old! Finally I said to him, "Elliot, I get sad when I have to go to work and I can't stay home with my family." Of course he followed it up with, "Daddy, what makes you happy?" and I was able to tell him, "Reading you stories makes makes me happy!"
This weekly coffee thing was sort of a pain to get started, and I have had to turn down a lot of great opportunities that popped up all of a sudden on Thursday mornings. But the fact remains that it's working.
Just another small victory on my quest to become the man I should have been all along.