Parenting experts have been saying for years that you should spend one-on-one time with your children.
After last weekend, which was winter break for Muscogee County Schools, I wholeheartedly agree.
Every year, I see "winter break" on the schedule and have visions of taking a vacation with my wife and four children. That's a laugh. We're too busy to relax.
Last weekend, half of my family was in Tennessee, where my 16-year-old daughter was visiting a college and my wife and 10-year-old son were staying with relatives. My 14-year-old son was in Florida on a school trip.
I was home in Columbus with my 13-year-old son, who was participating in a public service project.
On Friday night, after his program ended for the day, we walked the dog and went out to eat Mexican food and then came home and listened to some music he likes and then we watched a movie about two LAPD partners who were trying to break up a drug cartel by themselves.
In the morning, in a salute to law enforcement, we went to the FOP lodge and ate pancakes. We talked a lot. Actually, he talked a lot and I listened. He's funny, intelligent and interesting.
Which was surprising, because he's usually talking a lot of trash to his brothers and sister. His normal role, as the middle boy, is to challenge his older siblings while maintaining a position of dominance over his little brother.
The others have jobs, too. The oldest child has to be bossy and condescending; the second child has to project an aura of cool indifference; and the very youngest, in addition to fighting for every scrap of food, must stay out of the spotlight so he can occasionally sneak away and have fun without getting caught.
They can be classified in other ways, too. Like cats and dogs, and I'm not talking about the fighting.
Two of my children are like cats, which means they act like they own you and like they always have a better place to go and something better to do.
The other two are like dogs, which means they're happy as long as they're fed regularly and on the couch watching "Duck Dynasty." I won't say who's who.
But send one child or maybe two off and the whole dynamic changes.
Sure, the dogs are still dogs and the cats are still cats, but the second child might suddenly become the oldest in the house, or the middle son might suddenly become the youngest.
In their new roles, they do things that surprise you, and that's not always bad.
Or better yet, take one of them away for some one-on-one time. It's good for the child, but it's even better for the parent.
Dimon Kendrick-Holmes, executive editor, firstname.lastname@example.org.