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Destinations, Dreams and Dogs - International adventure with a fast-track family (& dogs) of Old World values, adopting the Russian-Italian-American good life on the go…!

Kids Need Time… and You

If your family is anything like ours (and it’s probably not… and you are probably thankful for that…), there is a constant tug-of-war taking place for your time. Especially at the holidays, we have the choice to nurture home life or hoopla.

Nothing wrong with hoopla–whether parties, special events, outings to the theater or shows–maybe I get tired of this because my everyday life consists of a lot of hoopla. While it may be argued that you can be out and about “as a family”, I would argue that for most children, the event overshadows any warm and fuzzy family feeling. At the holidays, I look forward to hanging out with family–watching a DVD at home, baking or cooking together, going for a walk, and yes, even doing crafts.

I am generally not a crafty person. Martha Stewart will not be calling me for a guest appearance any time soon, that’s for sure. But Benedetto has decided that this activity is good for the soul, so our eager beavers have been painting, lacing, gluing, and stringing during the occasional odd minute here and there.

“Product testing,” he says, while they are arm-deep in sequins, “for a major corporation,” he winks while I cheer the troops… and keep walking.

“You mean to say we could be being paid for this?” I toss over my shoulder.

I have found glue in a guest bath sink, which the boys insist is not glue, but hair gel. Entirely possible. There are natural repercussions to all of the fun and games. As long as the dogs don’t choke on any small pieces. I see black paint on gold drapes.

“Um, can someone clean up the black paint on the drapes, please?” I suggest.

“It’s prupp-el, Mama, not black,” says Mashenka, giving herself away as the offender.

“The color is not so much important, as that it be cleaned up….”

Two weeks and counting, it’s still there.

Since bedtime in our house could be likened to rush hour on a commuter train platform, and Benedetto does his own rituals that, in my opinion, take far longer than necessary given the late hour and the scientifically-engineered stalling techniques, I have come up with different ways to spend time together throughout the day without losing my mind in the process. It might be an encouraging word for no specific reason, holding someone’s hand on the plane, combing hair to give it just the right flip, memorizing vocabulary or spelling words and making it into a game. Now we’ve started a new family activity that takes all of ten minutes or so.

At the close of one meal each day, I read a book in Russian to the children. You could do this in English, as well, but not all of our children are fluent enough for that, and they do lots of reading in English during school. As I read, I’ve noticed that just a few pages is all it takes to get them wrapped up in the story line, until we leave them with a cliffhanger for next time. Should I absentmindedly (okay, intentionally) forget on some days that are crammed full of activity, the book is brought and handed to me.

“Pazhal’istah, Mama….”

See, kids want you. I know that they, or you, can convince yourself that they really, really, really need the latest gadget, widget, or doo-dad that is advertised ad infinitum on the squawk box. Living in an upscale environment where kindergartners have i-Pods to entertain them while being driven a few blocks to school by the family chauffeur, second graders can read the stock pages to see how their trust fund is being managed, and fourth grade girls wear full makeup and nail polish to match their i-Phones, I get the feeling that we’re paying off our kids for our own inattention. And that’s a high price to pay.

Never mind that we can afford all of the junk that is requisite and de rigeur these days: pricey dolls, designer clothes, expensive electronics, and nurturing nannies. The kids want us. (Alright, maybe they would prefer the stuff.) Let’s put it this way: the kids need us.

Studies have been done on the rates of promiscuity, and drug use, and gang involvement among regular, middle class kids. The rates do not go down when you add wealth to the mix. But the rates plummet when you have an involved parent or two who make time for the children, whether it’s before school, on the weekend, or at night. A few minutes scattered throughout the day add up.

This holiday season, let’s put “time together” at the top of the list.



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