When Connection is an “F” word

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Right now the nine year old boy in our house is carrying out some mock combat by himself on the trampoline. I see him through the windows punching the air, then falling onto his back. All his sisters are out with their mum, and we just finished his reading for the week (A scary Goosebumps story).

For him and all other children, connection is an F word. It is spelt “F-U-N”. If I really want to connect with him I’ve got to get onto the trampoline and participate in the combat. Hold on, I’ll be back……

Here is what happened … I climbed onto the trampoline, a smile splashed across his face….. I did some karate kicks, he corrected the narrative….. “Dad, I’m doing wrestling”. “OK,” I said and threw myself against the side of the tramp as if bouncing off the ropes. “I’m John Cena,” the boy declared rushing towards me. He gets me into a headlock. There is grunting and heavy breathing. We disentangle…. I prepare to scare the living daylights out of him …. “John Cena! He is WEAK. I’m The JUNK YARD DOG!” I declare flexing my middle aged muscles – expecting him to run off the tramp screaming. He dropped his guard, stopped bouncing and a perplexed gaze washed over his face ,”Who?”. Well, that backfired. “You’ll find out the hard way” I replied. Shrieks, complaints, laughter, and for me – exhaustion.

When we are young connection is built on FUN. Kids learn to love each other by having FUN with each other. They do things for fun. Fun is the goal, not the byproduct of another goal. To have FUN with friends and family is the foundation of the attachment process.

I have fun with my son because I enjoy his company. He is honestly a likeable kid. But I do it also knowing that time spent with him having FUN at this time of his life, will be a like investing in the future of our relationship. Like all blue chip investments having FUN with our children will pay dividends in the years to come.

I know that all connection is time dependent though. I have to stay aware. I can’t let these years roll by. There can be no FUN with children without times spent having FUN with them. If I have no time, then I can’t have any connection. I have to provide the time in order to create the FUN. I resolve to stir him about how the Junk Yard Dog really is better than the weak John Cena. They’ll meet again. Oh yes, they’ll meet again.

Dr Jonathan Andrews MAPS

Clinical Psychologist

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