Our three children are still young enough that they want to share their latest discoveries with their parents. Many times I will hear excited cries of “Dad, check this out!”, delivered with a real sense of urgency.
What I “need to see” invariably turns out to be a new weapon in a video game, or a dolls’ tea party, all set up ready for me to sit down and share a cup of imaginary tea. Actually that last one would have started with “Daddy”, since my daughter knows she has to pull out all the stops to get me involved in a party with stuffed animals.
Since I am rarely just sitting there twiddling my thumbs, these urgent requests are too often met with “In a minute” or “As soon as I’ve finished this.” Often, I am ashamed to say, never to be followed up on.
But are adults so different?
Joanne has tried so hard to involve me in decorating, but I just don’t get it. Coral, to me, is a living organism, not a color. As long as tables don’t rock, seats are comfortable, and curtains keep intruding eyes from peeking in, then I don’t need to know what it matches.
Conversely, I recently tried to show Joanne some very cool software that I had just fired up on a new virtual server. She looked around, tried very hard to look interested and…failed miserably.
I realized then that I had just committed exactly the same crime as my son when he tried to show me his latest video game. And then it all became clear to me. This isn’t about showing video games, or software, or matching colors, it is about sharing something you are passionate about with someone you love.
Is it fair for me to not listen to Joanne or my kids, but then expect them to snap to attention while I drone on about the benefits of open source or SaaS delivery models? Not really.
So I am turning over a new leaf and trying to pay more attention to these requests. I figure my children are only on loan and I really should try to listen to them when they are excited about something. The great thing is that, often, what they have is actually very cool and/or funny.
I remember reading that every religion in the world – all of them – have one thing in common: the directive that you should treat others as you would like to be treated.
So I am going to try harder to pay attention to the loved ones in my life. Responses of “In a minute” are now reserved for those occasions when time is of the essence.
Starting today I will make an effort to go and find out what my family has to show me before those moments are lost, and I’m inviting you to do the same…just please don’t ask me to sit in on a tea party with stuffed animals.