Week 8 of the dinner challenge is here, which means two solid months of focusing more on getting together as a family or couple! Some weeks, our family has knocked it out. During other weeks, the push and pace of life has pulled at the seams of our dinner commitment. This week, I was reminded of why it’s important to keep focused on our family.
What we learned: There is no rewind button.
Last week, I asked my 7-year-old daughter L.E. at dinner who Justin Bieber is. She crunched her face up in concentration and replied, “I think he’s a singer.”
I didn’t ask her that because I don’t know who he is. Clearly he’s an adorable Canadian one boy, boy band. It’s difficult not to know who he is. I asked L.E. that because I wanted to take her “pop culture temperature.”
You see, although I’ve got nothing against Justin Bieber, culture is always trying to speed up the age of our kids. The window to be a child, to be invested in dolls and crayons and princess castles is getting shorter and shorter. There’s a rush to adolescence that starts years earlier than it used to. And I bumped into that when our five-year-old daughter started to hang out with other five year olds who were watching Disney shows about teenagers.
I used to think that I wanted to raise a “cool kid.” I used to think I wanted them to be culturally savvy and able to talk about the cool stuff with other cool kids at school. But bumping into the situation with my younger daughter really threw me.
As I’ve shared before, those shows her friends were watching weren’t created for a five-year-old. The entertainment she wanted to watch was not written for a girl two years out of diapers. It’s got boyfriends and girlfriends and topics that are way out of her understanding as a little kid. And she might love it. She might sing all the songs and have a blast doing it and fit right in with all her friends. But if I encourage her to do that, if I push her toward that, I fast forward her through childhood. I speed her up from a five year old to a 10 year old. And although I make about 47 dad mistakes a day, I have learned one secret about childhood:
You can fast forward childhood, but you can’t rewind it.
I wish I could but I can’t. Childhood only goes one direction and I want her to stay a little kid for as long as she can. There will be plenty of time later for her to think boys are cute and interesting. I promise.