My son, E, was just under 18 months old the first time we took him and his twin brother to the beach. His brother, a fearless Tasmanian devil trapped in a toddler’s body, took to the beach with his usual boldness. Over the course of the week, he traversed more sand than Peter O’Toole did in all 228 minutes of the Lawrence of Arabia director’s cut.
E didn’t quite take to the beach in the same way. A few months prior to our vacation, he had started therapy for some sensory issues. New tactile experiences were definitely not his forte. While his brother explored the beach, E sat on a blanket under our beach umbrella, content to be avoiding the feeling of sand between his hypersensitive piggies.
In a rare moment of bravery, I took E down to the water’s edge. I knew that I was taking a gamble, but I really wanted to give him a chance to experience the ocean. I carried him down to the water’s edge and sat with him and waited for the surf to come up around us.
He stood there, his tiny arms gripping mine in fear and anticipation. He didn’t cry or fuss; he just looked out with pure childish wonder at the ocean. He smiled and giggled as the surf swelled up around us. For 10 minutes, my entire world was nothing but my son’s unbridled happiness. While he was too young to remember it, I will treasure that memory for my entire life.
From the moment we found out my wife was having twins, I swore that we would make it a point to spend one-on-one time with each of them. Yet with the two of us working different schedules, family time can come at a premium in our household. At best, my wife, children and I get one full day of family time together. At worst, well, it’s less than that. When you start to factor in the standard household errands, getting out for some quality one-on-one time just really hasn’t been an option.
That’s why those little moments feel so powerful. With a memory like that being so significant to me and such an important moment of connection, I understand how critical it is to make those little opportunities count.
While our circumstances don’t often afford us the luxury of spending hours of one-on-one bonding time with our sons, we do our best to make sure we spend equal amounts time with them. Sometimes it’s as simple as making sure we swap who has which kid when we head to Target. Sometimes it’s taking the child who wakes up early on a Sunday morning, on a donut run before his brother is up.
Someday, our circumstances may change. As the boys get a older and become a little more reasonable, they’ll understand that a one-on-one trip with Mommy or Daddy doesn’t mean that the other one is missing out on something fun. It just means that there is an opportunity to spend time with the other parent.
Until then, we’ll do our best to turn those little moments into lifelong memories.