Born to Dance

By Michael

It’s one in the morning and we’re dancing in the family room. Jill, the girls and I are boogying on down and busting a move and, I don’t know, whatever it is people call it, and we’re having a great time.

Even dad, who can’t dance.

Nobody can remember how we got there. We were having a family dinner; that much we remember. Then we started playing cards, but at some point there were CDs on the player and then we were dancing

And I’m thinking, what if I had planned this? Or, more accurately, what if I had tried—and failed –to plan this? Because, really, when could you ever tell your kids that you’re going to sit down for dinner and then you’ll take out a deck of cards and play for a few hours and then you’ll all get up and dance? And if you told them your, um, agenda for the evening, would they suddenly find something else to do?

Family dinner has always been a big thing in our house. No television and no cell phones allowed at the table. If the phone rings, it goes to voice mail. Dinner conversation is reserved for those people who actually took the time to show up.

Somewhere along the line, we started having dinners that lasted three or four hours. We’d talk about life and values and people—kids, too, not just the parents—and the conversations would simply continue on their own. We didn’t plan it at first, but if the conversation was going well, we wouldn’t stop it, either.

That’s the thing about quality time. You never know when it’s going to happen. Plan a great family dinner and you can end up with bored kids and petty bickering. Start cleaning out the garage and you’ll suddenly be overwhelmed with laughter. Nobody knows how or why things can turn terribly sour or go wonderfully right.

My PDA can organize my life in 15 minute segments, but I can’t schedule a great day. I just have to be there when it happens. Woody Allen said that 80% of success is just showing up. His parental skills notwithstanding, we can learn something from that bit of wisdom.

Quality time isn’t created. It happens. Often…usually…almost always…it happens inside a big honkin’ load of quantity time. If you don’t plan to hang around for a while and see what happens, don’t expect a lot of great memories.

Michael Rosenbaum is 5 Minutes for Parenting’s first dadblogger. He is a business consultant, playwright and author of Your Name Here: Guide to Life.

Michael blogs on life issues at Your Name Here Guide to Life and manages the Adult Conversation discussion group on Linked-In.

4 Responses to Born to Dance
  1. Blessed
    November 17, 2009 | 1:16 pm

    So true! If you aren’t around for quantity time, quality time never happens.

  2. Marie
    November 18, 2009 | 1:53 am

    I love it. It’s so true. You just can’t plan the best stuff.

  3. Kelly
    November 18, 2009 | 5:51 pm

    What an awesome memory. And you’re right — the debate between quality time and quantity time is a myth. It’s pretty much impossible to have quality without quantity. It’s just the nature of relationships. They can’t be managed.

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