Daddy, can you play with me? - - Singapore Wacky Digital Underground Outpost

Daddy, can you play with me?

Sad Face taken with LG Optimus G

It's a mad rush for datelines. 

You have to complete your work by the next day with only an hour or so to spare before nap time. You left the child at his room, playing with his own toys while you stowed away to your hideout, the study room. You locked yourself down, preparing for what is a battle ahead, a battle against time.

Soon you heard a knock on the door, the enemy is approaching .. Well actually no, it's your son who had knocked and in his eager tone, he asked,
"Daddy, can you play with me?"

Like the general with only a forward vision of the immediate task at hand,you hardly weigh your options and barked your orders,
"I am busy now son, go play on your own"

"Ok, but when will you not be busy?"
Ask the boy in his trembling little voice.

"Tomorrow, tomorrow, I will be free to play with you."
You roared , eager to engage in the battlefield of projects and work. Eyes glued to the 25 inch computer screen.

" But that is what you said yesterday...."
Whispered the boy as he left the sanctuary of your hideout. Before he closes the door, you glance up at him.

You caught a tear in the corner of his big brown eyes. Your defence dropped. You pondered.
" What have I done?"

Does the above scenario seem familiar? Many times in our busy lives, we tend to prioritise what we think is important. On several occasions, work takes over the playtime with your child, the bedtime stories and the little conversations. We tend to think that we could postpone the time to spend with the child since they are young. After all, we have a lifetime with them but only a day to complete the work at hand.

It is no different with me. I spend time juggling with work commitments, updating the journal, my chill time and taking care of the kids. I have at several occasions rejected the invitations of my children to play, it is not something that I am proud of. I came to understand what I deemed as urgent and important pales in comparison to what is really of utmost priorities- my role as a father and the needs of my children.

Many times when we heard the question, " Can you play with me? " we would have groaned, or at least I would. Playing LEGO for the tenth time base on the same storyline or sharing an iPad and playing Zombies vs plants for the 100th time is not exactly the stuff I look forward to at the end of the day. Nevertheless, it dawned on me that when my sons requested permission to play, it is for 2 reasons.

1) They miss me and want a little bit of my attention.

2) They enjoy the goofy games they play with daddy as daddy comes up with the most ridiculous storyline and the highest throw in the air (something which Mommy usually refrain from)

In recent weeks, it hit me that my children are getting bigger and growing up fast. A lifetime with them does not equate to a lifetime of memories if we choose not to engage them. Soon they will outgrow their dependency stage and would be less willing to ask the golden question. In fact, I am actually denying myself the privilege of spending precious time with them every time I say "No" to their play sessions. 

Every denial of play means a good 30 mins less of memory I would make on my sons. Every time I say yes to doing other stuff, important or otherwise, I am saying no to creating a moment with them. It is not encouraging to spend 24-7 with them. Neither is it right to deny them a father figure when they need one. I choose to be their dad, I jolly well learn to become one.

Furthermore, every time I say the word NO, I fear it will be drilled into them. In the future when it is my time to depend on them due to old age or sickness, I fear I will get the same response as I had the dish out to them. With those thoughts, I had made up my mind, the datelines can wait, the tv shows can be recorded, facebook updates will always be there and the blog entries can take a backseat. I am not advocating a lifetime of play, but rather a balance between work and play. More importantly, if it is a request from the kids, it should never be met with a no but rather a firm promise to make it up when possible.

I decided to write this so I can remember what I pledged. One day, when the boys are old enough to understand, they would appreciate what their old man is doing.

Now let me take a break and play with my children.


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