Remember childhood? Remember those times when you longed for the attention of your parents, hoping that during their daily hustle they would somehow take a moment to simply engage your interests with undivided attention? Maybe they were to busy to pay attention to your every need; or maybe your immediate need was simply overshadowed by the countless array of responsibilities adult life sends a parent’s way. Either way, the time and attention craved by our children are oftentimes simply too much for any one person to undertake in the “Game of Life.”
In the last blog, I explored the idea that “It Only Takes a Moment, to Make a Moment.” At the time, my two children Tommy and Billy had become inquisitive about another route to school, a path we would walk for the rest of the week, growing their young minds to the idea that alternative routes exist. As a new world of possibilities emerged for their awaiting psyche to explore, it struck me that it does only take a moment to make a moment in the life of our children.
A week later, on a typically hectic Monday morning, I walked into a special gift left behind by my sons, posted all over my computer work station. The children that I had said goodbye to at school only minutes before, somehow had left a series of Pokemon drawings on my desk, under the premise that “I would have a friend if I became lonely at work.” These words are quoted from my son Tommy, who left me the drawings he created the day before, as he witnessed a hectic effort to organize our offices for the upcoming week. While his little brother Billy is not yet the artist that his big brother is, he left another nice gift, in the form of handprints smeared on the jet black glass table that stands as the focal point of the office that I call home for 8 hours a day. As I saw these gifts left behind, it reminded me that art truly is in the eye of the beholder.
Having practiced as a developmental psychotherapist for the past 13 years, I have long helped people to understand how the maturation process affects the emergence of normal and abnormal psychological processes. Having earned a doctorate and specializing in developmental psychology, I felt very grounded in understanding the lifelong developmental sequence. However, the years of academic training, and the oftentimes 50 different, yet competing theories that occupy my mind at any given time did nothing to prepare me for the display of human compassion I witnessed when I opened the door to my office and starred upon the complete and utter mess of beauty my two sons created at my work place. It was a gift from the heart, a blessing in the disguise of a mess, beauty portrayed in the geometrical shapes of a child’s imagination.
Being an academic, a professional, a business person, and a father, I oftentimes find myself tried by my lack of patience. I realize that I want things done, I want them done quickly, and with the least amount of resistance possible. However, this is an extraneous schedule imposed on me from both outside sources and inside expectations. While this is my personal experience, it is also has collective traits. Having worked in the field of psychology, I oftentimes see that a common source stress occurs when people fall victim to and become captives of their time. The idea that we are somehow not in control of our time is a myth, common to an adult’s psyche, and stands as the basis for which we deny our children the most valuable resource that will promote their healthy development. Whether it is work, schedules, meetings, church, or social activities, time is a value. It is the only value needed by children to assure their healthy development. However, time is also the first to go as other values compete for your attention on a daily basis.
It is imperative to remember that a child’s time does not operate in the same way as an adults. Instead, time moves slower for them, because they lack the years of experience with a concept they have too little lived experience with. Time is relative. If you do not believe this concept, ask yourself this: how long does it feel like to spend 4 hours doing something you love versus being stuck in driving school on a Saturday morning. One seems to go by in a blink of an eye, while the other just drags on, and on, and on. The same amount of time is spent on each, but the feelings associated with it somehow create a completely different outcome. In one example, time moves slowly; the other, much more rapidly. One we will try to avoid like the plague; the other, we will revisit next week.
Time is relative, dependent on the fun we have with its expenditure. Realize, that what only feels like a moment to you, can make all the difference in the developing world of your child. See their strengths, in light of their faults. Help them to correct what is wrong, but also help them amplify what is right. Allow their strengths to shine through. Let them bed the beacon of hope they are meant to be; for it is in these strengths that our next generation will somehow do, even outdo the many failures we have left for them to clean up.
Gifts from the heart can be used to make moments in our children’s lives. Give them the most precious gift, one moment of your time, to make their day, their year, their life more special. Yesterday, my children gave me the gift of chaos, in what I thought would be a day of organization to prepare for the week to come. Opposites? Maybe. But I like to think of it as a remembrance, that maybe, just maybe, as I shake things up in their world to benefit their maturation journey, they also shake things up in my world, reminding me of special job I have to oversee their development into productive citizens. At a minimum, they gave me a few friends to keep me company on a long weeks work. The maximum, is already felt, from the eternally loving gratitude of a father that is happy.
What gifts from the heart have you given your children today? Remember, it only takes a moment, to make a moment, in the life of your child.