“I wanna do a craft project,” said my 3-year-old. He pointed out the supplies that he wanted and I observed quietly. He was on a mission.
Grasping all the change his small palm could hold, he wrapped it up, carefully and purposefully.
“Why does Daddy have to work so much?” He asked as he prepared his present to him.
It was a small gesture but its message was clear and loud. It’s like I could hear what this small mind was thinking: “If Daddy works to make money and I give him some money, that means he’ll get to spend more time with me, right?”
Americans work more hours and accumulate more stuff than those in other countries but we aren’t happier for it and neither are our children. I’ve started thinking about Christmas already and asked Adam what he might want from Santa this year. Looking around and frowning he says, “Nothing, I like all my old toys.”
Instead, Santa bestows on him other gifts, he says, such as the presents of insights, strength and other knowledge. “How’d you know that?” I’ll ask when he does or says something I find amazing. “From Santa” is always his response.
While toys are fun, they are almost a cruel joke when compared to the real life skills that even a 3-year-old knows are more important to navigating through life. But then, my philosophy since I’ve had a child has been based on the fact that I honestly believe that children know all sorts of things instinctively that we, as adults, may have forgotten as we manuever our way through paying bills and living up to expectations.
Balancing time at work with spending time with the family is hard for everyone. We are lucky enough to have only one parent working fulltime, while I stay at home and work during my “extra” hours: early mornings, late nights etc. In the last 3 years, I can count the times we’ve used a babysitter on one hand. The things I’ve learned from my child during that time are countless.
So, taking another que from him: let’s all try to remember that there is nothing more valuable than that time together. Saying “no” to that overtime or that extra project at work will be worth it. Take a day off from the babysitter and hang out as a family, you’ll still get the important stuff on your to do list done, I promise.
Trade some money for some time, and you’ll be spending that time wisely. Nothing will ever be worth more.