A reminder to myself from the inimitable Dear Abbey as the holidays creep closer. As the boxes pile up on the front step and the girls make last minute changes to gift lists and we worry we’re not giving them enough and somehow giving them way too much.
“If you want your children to turn out well, spend twice as much time with them, and half as much money.”
Money can make things easier, no doubt, gifts might make them temporarily smile, no doubt, but there is no substitute for that garbage time.
One silver lining to living through a kitchen renovation is the ample crazy time at home. I’ve written before about capitalizing on the garbage time with the girls: various car rides, doing chores, walking to the bus stop.
We should be just about done with the kitchen next week (famous last words) and it’s certainly provided some stories we will tell and remember for years. And no one is too important or too busy to have some crazy time at home.
These moments are the best moments. If they’re rare, you might be doing something wrong. They should be regular. Maybe not renovation projects but the crazy, stupid times that feel discardable in the moment, but stick in the mind.
For all my indoor cat tendencies, I do like to plant a vegetable garden each year. With summer vacation a short half day away on Tuesday, the girls will be helping me more this year.
Forget about getting a puppy or other pet to teach kids responsibility, planting a garden is a much cheaper and just as effective way to teach kids long lasting life lessons: planning, prepping, growing, waiting. Really, if I could just work in flash cards….
In the book, Outdoor Kids in an Inside World, Steve Rinella has a chapter on the lessons families can learn from gardening. Like the best advice, it doesn’t need much space:
Through our actions, we have the power to make things thrive.
Neglect is deadly.
Sort of applies to a bountiful garden or…being a good parent.
It was a harrowing trip but we made it into New York City yesterday and enjoyed the Whitney, browsing The Strand, warm bowls of ramen, and seeing Moulin Rouge on Broadway.
Okay, none of that happened. The birthday getaway weekend did not go according to plan, but the girls brought the energy, there was cake, a nap, and I stayed in my pajamas all day. A pretty good birthday nonetheless.
We are coming up on report card and conference season and this is just a reminder to myself not to get distracted. Easier said than done. Life has a way of filling any empty space with opportunities, responsibilities, competition, glitter. It can consume us.
So this is a reminder to myself: keep the main thing, the main thing. This might be different for every family or individual but for me, as a Dad, it’s not to lose sight of the main job: raising well-adjusted, self-reliant, decent, happy kids. It’s not hitting benchmarks, or a certain GPA, or college.
The main thing is for them to be healthy, have good values, and have a good sense of who they are and what they want to spend their life on.
Everything else is secondary. Nice, but not necessary.
P.S., The main main thing, of course, is to love them and to love them while we can. I don’t generally need a reminder of that.
It was Michelle’s birthday yesterday and I was thinking about time. And the lessons we can learn from kids and the lessons we can teach them.
Birthdays to the young are huge and momentous. They are anticipated and planned with all the focus and energy we wish they’d put into learning new math.
For parents, our birthdays are…maybe not as special. We’ve been through it all so many times before.
A parent’s relationship with time is different. Kids have such a limited sense of time. They can be arrogant about time just through sheer ignorance. But adults can also be too dismissive because we are just too comfortable.
Maybe we can help each other appreciate it. Not to wish away minutes in a rush to get older and not to simply let it slip from our grasp.
I had a birthday this week. And parenting didn’t stop. This is a job with no end. Moms and Dads are always on the clock. But you can’t lose yourself either. Age is not a barrier and we can’t use being a parent as an excuse. Just the opposite. My life may have gotten re-priortized but it didn’t stop when I became a Dad.
I know the girls are always watching (unless I’m talking about the benefits of flash cards). I need to keep growing, too. I won’t give up my interests but rather keep trying to teach with them. Who else is going to make me pizza and muffins in my old age?