The safest time to put a column about parenting in the newspaper just might be the first week of school. Summer is over by then. By September, we have generally survived brief months of the whimsical delights and demands of children, and there are once again moments of quiet. Usually, but not this summer.
Happy little voices promise to echo a while yet. So, what to do?
We are the hurried generation. What will our children look back and wish we had done? Suppers cooked together. Grown-up topics discussed. Fixing the car and a water-fight. Helping someone in need then cozying up for a good read.
We may each fill in our own wonderings, because someday Dr. Seuss will ask us, “How did it get so late so soon?”
What might children wish for, given the chance to relive their childhoods? Few would choose more text-messages or another movie over family games and a new hobby. Things families used to do have now become ‘field trips’ at school. Maybe we could venture out on a few of those. Wondrously, we could spend a whole day without once saying, “Hurry up!”
In perpetuity, I will look back on days of delayed school starts and disturbed work schedules and realize the gift I have been handed. A gift of time. A bit of quiet warmth. A moment to look into upturned eyes without having to rush away. The difficulty that blossomed into an opportunity.
If you would permit a word-warped poem, it would declare, “Cobwebs please go away, dust go to sleep, I’m ___________ with my children, and children don’t keep.”
Fill in the blank and we fill the empty wants in our children’s hearts. Such times can cure a child’s need — a need for the focused love of their parents. This is our chance to have prolonged Time-Ins, those snuggles that diminish the number of Time-Outs.
Life devours family time in great gulps. Many families need two incomes now.
Opportunities seem to have decreased with votes that have choked mining, lumber, and other developments. Sadly, fewer jobs and higher taxes are nothing new.
But I have yet to hear anyone say, “I wish my parents had spent less time with me.”
So far the school bell hasn’t rung. That’s new — and possibly difficult. But it is still a gift. It’s a little package of seconds or minutes given to us to squeeze in memories that will follow our children for a lifetime. We may not all live to know our great-grand-children, but ancient writings tell us that what we do impacts multiple generations.
These droplets of time can repeat themselves nearly forever. And as Jean Piaget told us, “The child is the father of the man.”
Busy-ness is a cheater; sometimes life’s necessities crowd out what we really want to do with our children. But not this summer … I’d love to hear what you did with those extra moments. LOL@wltribune.com.
Rita Corbett is a freelance columnist with the Tribune/Weekend Advisor.