In my recent post, A Tale of Two Mondays, I described how I now looked after Sam on a Monday: to varying effect. I hope though that it was obvious from that piece that, however the day turns out, I am really enjoying my time with him. He is now at that stage where he is starting to be able to communicate with us, and is learning new words everyday (brektoid for breakfast being my current favourite). We are also able to see his personality coming through more and more, which is great.
This is particularly pleasing for me because I feel that it has taken me longer to get to know him than was the case with Jake. When we had just Jake I could spend all my spare time with him, but this has just not been possible with Sam because he has always tended to cling more to Karen, while Jake became much more of a Daddy’s boy once Sam came along; Jake saw just what the arrival of Sam meant for him quite quickly. Combine this with a job where I was away a lot and I felt that I hardly got to know Sam for the first 18 months of his life; which made me quite sad sometimes.
However, one of the unexpected positive side effects of taking redundancy at the end of 2011 was that I was able to spend more time with Sam, and especially on the half days when he was not at nursery and Jake was; and latterly on Mondays now Jake has started school. This has very much been a two way process and from seemingly being ‘the other one who seems to live with us but does not have any milk to offer’, he now seems to accept me much more and seems to be very happy to spend time with me.
Since having the boys it has really struck me that developing a reciprocal relationship with children is more of a two way process than I had previously realised. It is obvious that this is the case on one level, but I did not previously understand that if you want to have the trust of children and receive their affection you really have to put the time in with them and develop that relationship.
I see this, particularly with Sam, when we have visitors. If someone spends time with him and really attempts to connect with him they attain ‘doodah’ status. Doodah is what Sam calls anyone who he wants to relate to but does not know their name. If people do not bother with him so much then the ‘doodah’ is withheld.
I feel very lucky that I have the opportunity to see my children grow up in a way that some fathers do not. I am able to be around nearly every day to take Jake to school, and pick him up the majority of evenings; and we can have breakfast and our evening meal together as a family nearly every night. I have time to spend with Sam on Mondays, and with both boys at the weekends (when Karen has to work). I get to develop my relationship with them much more than if I was in a different city every week as was the case before.
I have got to discover more of Jake, and particularly more of Sam this year than I would have otherwise done; and in doing so also found out a lot more about myself. I am very fortunate, and I recommend it.