I have two daughters. Two lovely angels sent directly from above. They are great girls. They get along well, most of the time. But lately, I find myself struggling when it comes time to have some fun together. See – my daughters are 5 years apart. When Lucy was 7 and Sally was 2, activities were simple.
Wanna go to the play place at the mall? YES! Wanna go to the zoo and see the monkeys? YES! No worries. They had a great time together.
As they grew, more of the same. When Lucy was 10 and Sally was 5, sometimes it got a little sticky but finding something we could do together was still relatively easy.
Wanna go to the park? YES! Wanna go to the Petting Farm? YES! Easy. Fun was easy.
Nowadays, not so much. Lucy is almost 15 and Sally is 9. Suddenly the not so great divide has become the Grand Canyon of space between ages. Recently, I took a day off work and wanted to just do something fun with my gals. Figuring I will just do as I always do and ask them what they wanna do. It was not that easy.
Wanna go to the movies and see the latest animated flick? Sally says YES! Lucy says EH. Wanna go play Putt-Putt at Midway? Lucy says YES! Sally says NAH.
Deep breaths. What do you want to do girls?
Lucy says go to the DIA (Detroit Institute of Arts). Sally looks horrified at this idea. Sally says go to Skyzone. Lucy says HARD PASS. Deep long sigh.
This age difference thing – I always knew there was potential for it to be an issue. I am thankful that so far the only thing affected is the fun factor. But this is tough. I want to provide opportunities and activities that both girls love to do – things that bring us closer together. As they get older that seems more difficult.
Do I split the time between them? Do I make the younger do what the older wants or the older do what the younger wants? What is the right approach? Why is this suddenly so hard? I found the answer in the question. It’s hard because they ARE different ages. So how do I bridge that great divide?
I find myself going back to the basics. We read books and host board game nights. We play cards and ride scooters and take walks. We serve together at the church and in the community. We try new restaurants. We go window shopping (when Sally is in the mood). We go grocery shopping (I have to teach them how to do these things) and visit grandparents. We go to the beach and we just do life together.
I found I was putting too much pressure on myself to entertain them, and that at this stage I have a great opportunity to teach them that life is not only about entertainment. This is the time to really teach them about relationships – how important they are to create, build and maintain. I am teaching them that life doesn’t just happen for you – you make life happen. You have to cook your food and do your dishes and fold your laundry. And there can be great satisfaction in doing those things for yourself. Is it entertaining? Not always. But it is necessary. And doing these things makes the time you have for entertainment more rewarding.
My job as a parent is to raise well-rounded, self-sufficient, functioning and contributing members of society. To do that, they have to know balance. Entertainment is part of that, but only a small part.