When they are tiny, wide-eyed, impressionable creatures we prop them up onto our bellies while we do, and bear witness to, the things we love most in life. In a flash, they are then in our arms while we read, on our shoulders while we cheer, and hand in hand while we hike. That’s the genesis of the bonds we’ll make with our children but it’s all one-sided. At that early stage, it is us bequeathing to our children the many somethings that we hold dear. As they get a little older, our kids tend to adopt our teams, our music, or sense of what is or isn’t cool, and man they do it so feverishly which makes our hearts soar and our eyes moist. It is a one way street still, yes, but now it feels more participatory on their end. And we’re as happy as can be.
Then things change.
Our children become people, like, real young adult people who have a slightly (or dramatically) different take on things. Their humor is suddenly more cutting than ours, their favorite team is now, wait what, who!?! THEM?? NOOOOO!!!!!, their taste in music is individualistic and sometimes at odds with the sounds we raised them to appreciate, and what they choose to munch on is no longer what we ourselves would prefer for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack, dessert…who are these people now living in our homes??!!
It’s a beautiful time. It’s a maddening time. They are growing up and figuring out who they are, but the thing is, if we do this parenting thing right (and we should all be trying hard to do it right) we will be bonding with our kids throughout the entire process, from baby bibs to boyfriends, and we will come to relish the opportunity to find brand new ways to bond over the things they truly love, to appreciate the two-way nature of life, to afford them the same respect they gave us and our favorite things for years and match the enthusiasm and open-mindedness they brought to the kiddie table all those many moons ago.
My daughters and I have shared countless moments rooting for the teams I’ve loved (probably a bit too passionately) since I was their age, vacation adventures to the cities I’d longed to discover, and early mornings snuggled up together with bowls of Cheerios watching the English sport I’ve become infatuated with in recent years. Lately, I’ve grown accustomed to asked them which teams they like (please please please don’t say the University of Michigan or the Chicago Blackhawks — seriously, anything but that) and I’ll pull for them to win too, because I love to see my kids be happy.
When we travel I find out where they want to go, what they want to see, what they are excited to do. Our trips have become 5000% better as a result because I give them a voice, and we bond over those moments we wouldn’t have experienced otherwise, usually reflecting on what just happened or previewing the amazing day ahead in a hotel lobby with small bowls of Cheerios and tiny cartons of milk. In the mornings at home when we rush out the door for school on weekdays or snuggle on the couch on weekends to watch Premier League football together, we each have our favorite Cheerios variety (Multi-Grain for me, Honey Nut for the littler one, Very Berry now for the tween) and we enjoy our bowls of milky cereal goodness together.
I listen, sing along with and dance like no one is watching to the music my daughters discover.
I drive and fly away to the places that capture their imagination.
I cheer (within reasonable reason) to the teams they’ve adopted as their own (Come On You Spurs!).
And all the while, I take the low notes as they sing the high, we smile wide in harmony as we gaze upon natural splendor, we sarcastically side-eye each other knowingly and develop inside jokes to hold close to our vests for years, we act like goofballs (see below), sometimes we cry together when a release of honest emotion is needed to move forward, and we crunch cereal in unison to start, and sometimes end, our days as a family.
I’m closer to my daughters now than I’ve ever been because the bonds we’ve formed have been initiated not just from me, which makes them more meaningful and strong enough to last us a lifetime.
I encourage you to give the new Very Berry Cheerios a try. They are gluten free and free of any artificial artificialness, so you and your kids can enjoy them carefree and wherever your life’s adventures take you. Here’s to making memories and forming long lasting bonding with your children.
Here’s to berries everywhere.
I have partnered with Life of Dad and Cheerios for this campaign, but my opinions expressed above are honest and unbiased, as always.