Mandatory Quality Time
For my youngest daughter, the most valuable currency in the world is time. When we can give it to her — especially all by herself, without any siblings to compete for our attention — we are repaid tenfold with love like no other.
Thanks to recent changes in the family schedule, Jasmine and I have been spending a lot of time together. Luckily, she’s a great date! She can be a handful when she’s with her siblings, but one-on-one she’s easy-going, fun-loving, and easy to talk to.
Last weekend, she and I spent hours getting eye exams for glasses. The shop was busy and the service was slow, but Jasmine and I filled the time trying on glasses together, talking about school, and planning out where we could go for dinner if we ever got finished.
The prior weekend, we went to a Daddy-Daughter Dance for Valentine’s Day. Laurie dressed her in a beautiful dress the color of mint ice cream. Jasmine wore heals, a tiara, and got her nails and make-up done. I put on a suit and tie, and took her to her favorite restaurant, Red Lobster, where she insisted on reading the entire menu cover to cover before announcing what we should order. Then we talked about what songs they might play at the dance and who we might see. At the dance, we competed in the Baby Shark competition, then she grabbed my wrist and dragged me to the snack table. Then we slow danced, and after that she dragged me back to the table. Back and forth, all evening, until it was time to leave. On the car ride home, she constantly hugged my arm, rubbed my shoulders, and said this was the best day ever.
This past weekend we went to her classmate’s birthday party at Pin Stack, where elementary school-age kids go now that they’ve outgrown Chuck E Cheese. The birthday boy’s Mom handed out cards that gave us all unlimited access to laser tag, bumper cars, a rock climbing wall, and a ropes course. Jasmine and I did everything our card allowed. After a while, I asked her, “Do you want to find any of your friends and play with them?”
She looked around but didn’t see anyone. So she grabbed my wrist, and said, “C’mon!” And she dragged me to a second round of everything. We lost track of time, and after a while I suggested we find our party. But we found no one. “I think the party’s over,” I said.
“Can we play some more?” she asked.
“I’m gonna sit down for a few,” I said. “You go ahead and do something by yourself.”
“Nah,” she said. “We can go now.”
Clearly this child’s love language is quality time. Now that Jasmine had several hours of uninterrupted attention, I was her favorite person in the world. She followed me around the rest of day, and constantly kissed my cheek, asked if I wanted her to bring me a drink and snack, and told me I was the best dad ever. Later that afternoon, I was lying down in bed recovering when she leapt into my lap, handed me a card she’d made from scratch at her craft table, and bobbed up and down ready to explode if I didn’t hurry up and open it. She’d made me a Thank You card, which read this was the best day ever, and inside she’d made a coupon for a free hug.
“Do you want to spend it now?!” she asked.
“Sure!” I said.
She gave me a giant bear hug. Then she handed me my phone. “Can we look at pictures of the party?”
“We’ve done that seven times today,” I said.
She shrugged her shoulders and said, “Ok.” Ordinarily she gives me grief when I say no, but today I could do no wrong. However, I’m a sucker for this girl, especially when she’s being sweet. I handed her my phone and said, “Go ahead.”
She unlocked my phone and she started scrolling through my calendar, which must have been open from when I locked my phone. “Baby Doll, that’s not photos,” I said.
But before she shut down the calendar app, her eyes lit up and she shouted, “Ooh! There’s a party next Saturday for Joni from my class at a bounce house place! Can you take me?!”
I let out an exhausted sigh, “Go ask Mom if she’ll take you to this one.”
Jasmine ran out of the bedroom so fast her feet barely touched the floor. A minute passed, then I heard a loud “Hooray!” from the next room. Laurie came into the room and gave me a playful scowl. “I just got roped into a bounce house party next Saturday,” she said. “Do you have any idea how loud those places are?”
“Yes, I do,” I said.
“Ha ha. Thanks a lot.”
“Hey, when you’re done you’ll be the best mom ever. So you’re welcome.”