Don’t miss a moment

Published 10:31 pm Wednesday, April 25, 2018

By Nathan Rice

It was a beautiful day outside, and the playground at the park was scattered with kids and adults. I had one eye on the monkey bars and one eye on the swings. Looking at me from the monkey bars, she yelled “Watch me” as she swung back and forth eagerly trying to beat her time from one side to the next. The request from the one on the swing echoed that of every child who has ever sat on a seat dangled by two chains. “Push me,” he said, and I started him on his projection upwards.

The boy on the next swing wanted to follow this upward climb, so he gave the same request. “Push me,” he said. I was happy to help him, but I was hesitant to give him the push he desired as I did not know who he was or who was with him. An adult stood next to me by the swings, so I inquired of him. “Is he yours? Is it okay to give him a push?” He glanced up briefly from his cell phone as he replied, “Yeah, sure.” His eyes quickly returned to his phone as his thumbs tapped eagerly away at the screen.

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I know there are times when saying, “Wow! You’re doing great!” seems repetitive. I also understand that hearing “Higher!” after ever single push on the swing can be monotonous. The temptation to check sports scores, read through Facebook, watch online videos, or check work emails can be strong while on the playground with the kids. The interaction I had on that day, however, caused me to think about the moments that men often tend to miss with their children.

It can be the same with women, but can I admit as a man that it seems worse with our gender? We too often miss precious moments with our children that we can never regain. Sometimes we allow the pressures of work to keep us distracted. Many other times we simply use the excuse of being a man as if that somehow makes missing these moments acceptable.

I don’t know what the man next to me at the park was doing that day on his phone. Perhaps it was an emergency, but too often it is not. This summer I encourage all men to not miss these moments. These days will not last. She won’t always say “Watch me” and he won’t always want to be pushed higher. Take them to the park, get some ice cream, play catch in the backyard, drink the imaginary tea, listen to their stories, and let them know how great they are doing when they say “Watch me.” Facebook isn’t going away, the sports scores will be there later and work won’t fall apart if you don’t respond to that email right away.

I am hoping there are guys who will pledge with me not to miss any moments this summer. Let’s keep our phones in our pockets and enjoy the days that cannot be repeated.

Nathan Rice is a Hampton Roads native and can be reached at nrice@abnb.org.