The words, “treehouse and hot chocolate” spark a precious memory for my daughter and me. It started when I noticed signs that my little girl needed time alone with her mom. But when? Family life was demanding and fast-paced. An idea came. Crawling out of bed before dawn, I filled two thermoses with hot chocolate, tiptoed to my daughter’s room, and shook her awake with these words: “Hey, let’s climb in the treehouse and watch the sun come up!” She bolted out of bed with surprised delight. (Obviously she was too young to value sleep yet.) Bundled in blankets, we stumbled silently outside and up the ladder following the bouncing glow of a dim flashlight. We shared and bared our souls to each other—conversation free-flowing. She confided a friend problem and we explored a remedy. She told me her thoughts and dreams and goals. I expressed respect for her qualities of character. Perched so high, we noticed that the world looked different—peaceful, fresh and fine. As darkness yawned into light, we were disappointed that our sacred snuggle-time was ending and the bustle of family school preparations must begin.
She wanted to do this again the next day, and so we continued for a while. I discovered that marvelous communication happens during one-on-one time with children, while doing almost anything—no need for the spectacular or expensive. What makes it valuable? It says, “You are important.” What are the rewards? Real talking happens—the kind that doesn’t occur in groups, and a tighter bond of friendship follows. Through the years, I’ve tried to carve out time for frequent “one-on-ones” (as we call them) with each of my children, and now grandchildren, even as they grow older.