On any given day I will make 3 to 5 trips to the schools to pick a kid up, drop a kid off, and sometimes shuttle their friend here or there. To be honest that doesn’t fit all that well with my schedule and being inconvenienced has not been a favorite past time of mine at any point in my life. Most often I see those trips as a “have to do” and not a “get to do.”
Jamie is the opposite. She loves to take a kid here, take a kid there. And the kids like for her to take them although they don’t always like arriving in her minivan. On these trips they sing, talk, laugh, and sometimes get lost or forget where they are going. But they are fun trips that she loves to “get to do.”
Yesterday, after I made 3 trips to the high school after work, I also had to go and watch a homecoming parade. One kid was marching with the band and the other was marching with his football team. The parade was scheduled to go around the high school and end up in the football stadium for a pep rally with all school sports and activities participating. Parents, siblings, and friends were to watch and cheer along the way before assembling in the stadium to again watch and cheer. Seemed like a big pile of “have to” to me. Jamie rushed home from work, rushed Julia to church, dropped a meal off for a family in need, and rushed back to join me in the gallery. She couldn’t wait to “get to” watch those boys do their thing.
As those two young men passed in all their youthful glory it occurred to me that these are the moments I have been waiting for. This isn’t wasted time at all. This is time spent in the best way possible. Standing in the grass, fighting the TX heat, missing a replay of Seinfeld on TBS may seem like inconveniences to me, but they are the not. They are small details in moments where my life’s work is on display. Parenting (and friendships for that matter) are about seeing a moment for what it is and enjoying it to its fullest.
Moments invested in the celebration and/or support of others – especially our children – are the moments we have to put into slow motion and capture every frame. Being hurried, inconvenienced, or bored will carry us right past memories that we were born to be forever touched by. While watching what happens we will not capture the exact moment that he/she does the unbelievable.
We don’t waste time when we are available for our kids when they need us. Time is wasted when we choose to be inconvenienced by their need.
We don’t waste time when we celebrate the work of our kids in band, sports, academics, or just being a good kid. Time is wasted when we ignore their accomplishments and think about “what could be.”
We don’t waste time when we invest in their friendships by being nice and available to those they feel connected with. Time is wasted when we are bothered by how odd or different their friends are and try to isolate them socially.
We don’t waste time when we take the moments to teach, to correct, and to discipline our kids. Time is wasted when we ignore their behavior and hope they get it right next time. (They likely won’t without our input.)
We don’t waste time when we are honest with them about our failures and faults in life embarrassing as they may be. Time is wasted when we let them think they are the only ones in the family to ever mess up or to ever struggle with temptation or trials.
We don’t waste time when we are concerned enough to talk to, pray with, and cry over how they are doing. Time is wasted when we rely primarily on social media for ideas on what to do with a kid in trouble.
We don’t waste time when we try to slow down the growing up time so we can enjoy the moments we have with them. Time is wasted when we do all we can to speed up time to get them to a place where they can care completely for themselves.
We don’t waste time when we just stop and listen to them, laugh with them, and/or look at them in amazement. Time is wasted when we choose to live in a blur and let our time belong to everybody else but our family.
Time spent well with our kids is time well spent in our hearts. We can never get back those missed moments, but we can plan to miss as few as possible. Better to short ourselves of personal time, choice, and say so than to short our kids of the very real presence of a parent invested in their success and happiness. Those moments should be “get to do” moments as often as possible. In the future, we won’t remember what we “had to do” anyway. We’ll only remember the moments where we “got to” tell people they were “ours.”
Fathers/Mothers, do not provoke your children to anger [do not exasperate them to the point of resentment with demands that are trivial or unreasonable or humiliating or abusive; nor by showing favoritism or indifference to any of them], but bring them up [tenderly, with lovingkindness] in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:4)