How Much Would You Pay to Spend Time With Your Child?
The other day, my dear little daughter Olivia approached me with some Character Coins in her hand. "Papa," she said, "I'd like to go get some ice cream with you." Well, who can resist that?
To be honest, and I'm very ashamed to admit this, I'm actually quite capable of resisting it; and I suspect that a few parents reading this might relate to what I'm about to say.
My children love me. In fact, despite all of my weaknesses and shortcomings they continue to think I'm a pretty great guy. I get impatient, overwhelmed, cross, and downright grumpy at times but they just can't spend enough time with me. When I say, "Let's go outside and throw the ball!" or tell them that we're going to sit down to read a book their faces just light up. They light up in spite of myself, and it still surprises me a little every time I see it.
It surprises me because I'm the man who has turned them down more than any other man they've known. For as many times as I've agreed to throw the ball or read them a book, I've told them, "No, not right now," 5, maybe 10 times as much. Still, they keep asking.
You see, children are not like adults in this respect. They're not proud. When an adult gets turned down, it's likely they won't give you another chance because, well, that was a slight against them and they simply cannot have that. A child, however, will endure hundreds of, "No, not right nows," and keep coming back. Why? Because they remember the times when you said, "Ok, sure!" and those are the happiest times of their young lives. As the Proverb says, "...the glory of children are their fathers," (and no doubt it could read "parents").
This beautiful, unique, and unfailing love that young children have for their parents doesn't last forever. It has a definite shelf life and then, one day, it's gone. There will come a day when throwing the ball with Dad or having him read a book won't hold the same appeal that it once did and then you won't have to worry about "can we?'s" because they'll just stop coming. Sure, the relationship between parents and their children eventually blossoms into something more mature that is beautiful in its own right; but how many of us in our later years will lie awake at night somewhat haunted by the imploringly upward look of those little cherub faces from the days when they wanted nothing more than to spend time with us?
Then we'll want to curse all of the rote demands of everyday life which we allowed to stand between us and those irreplaceable moments of time with our children. I'm not suggesting that we quit everyday life (how could we?) but I am suggesting that we keep a watchful eye over it. If we're not careful it will happily (and quietly) snatch away some of the most precious years of our children's lives.
So, how much does it cost to spend time with one of your children? Really nothing, but this occasion set me back a whopping $2.99. You see, my daughter, my dear, dear daughter had worked hard on being well behaved for the month. As a result, she had earned enough Character Coins to go on an ice cream date with Papa (that's me). I know Olivia likes ice cream a lot, but the most amazing thing (and only parents understand this) was that she wasn't really turning her coins in for ice cream. She was turning them in to be with me! She wanted just her and I to hop in the car, and just her and I to drive to McDonalds, and just her and I to sit down and have some ice cream. She'd do that every day if she could.
All we did was go to McDonalds! It cost me $2.99! We got our ice cream, sat down, and we talked. Nothing deep, mind you. Just chatter about this and that; but I was admonished by her answers to some of my questions – I realized she's getting older and more mature in her thinking. It's so easy to let the days slide by and all the while they're growing up. I was listening to Olivia talk, but all I could hear was, "She's not going to stay little forever, you know..."
Oh! This innocent, Christ-like love that children possess towards their parents is one of the choicest gifts that God has given to us. It's a shame that we allow so many things to steal it away. I encourage you to make a renewed effort at allowing your children to delight in you by just being with them. Go buy them some ice cream, just you and them. Buy them an ice cream truck for crying out loud. Just do something before the flower of their child-like love fades away forever. You won't regret it.