Friday, September 6, 2013

The Best Gift You Can Give a Child

It's been a really emotional week around here. My little guy started preschool which made me really sad because I realize that my kids are growing up and before long, they will be spreading their wings and leaving home and creating lives for themselves and I'm just not sure I'm ready for that. Of course I still have time. They are 3, 8, 10 and 11 so it's going to be awhile down the road but if there is one thing I have learned since becoming a parent it's that time is short and it goes fast and if you try to rush too quickly through life, it passes you by and you miss out on so much. I have always thought my kids have such great lives because of the things we buy for them. They have pretty much anything kids could ever want and I'm proud that we have been able to provide those things to our children but I learned a really valuable lesson this week. 

My 8 year old came home from school yesterday, smiling ear to ear as he pulled out two drawings that he made. He placed them down in front of me and proudly said, "These are pictures of me and Uncle Chad. In one of them we are fishing and in the other one we are going hunting." He proceeded to point everything out to me in the picture and all of a sudden, I was completely overwhelmed with emotion. My eyes welled up

with tears because without knowing it, he had just taught me a big lesson in life. Years down the road, they aren't going to remember any of the "stuff" we have bought for them. If you want to give a child a gift that will last a lifetime, take this lesson from me. It's not the stuff that's important.. It's your time. My kids can't tell you what they got for Christmas last year or even for their birthdays this year but they can tell us every single moment that someone gave them their time. Josh can tell me every time his Papaw Rick took him to one of his football practices and to the flea market. He remembers every moment of his week at his Grandma Lisa's and Papaw Darryl's and he can recall every time Uncle Chad took him fishing or let him come hang out in his garage. He recalls ever time Daddy played football with him in the backyard and every night spent at Grandma Ada's taking bike rides. He remembers every time Uncle Kain showed him wrestling moves and the nights that Mommy spent helping him with his homework and studying for tests and taking care of him when he was sick. He remembers his teachers that comforted him when he was apprehensive about coming to school and the time they took to hug him and tell him that everything was going to be ok. THESE are the important things in life. You can spend all of your money buying kids things that they will never remember a year from now but they will never forget the day that you gave them your time and attention.

I have had to do a lot of evaluating in my own life as a parent this week. Too many times we reward our children with things that they really could care less about at the end of the day. From here on out, I'm going to start doing things different. When my preschooler has a good day at school, I will reward him with time playing together at the park or taking a walk and enjoying nature. When my older kids get good report cards, instead of handing over cash, perhaps we might take a little weekend trip together as a family. 

Don't ever underestimate the time that you spend with a child. Whether it is your own son or daughter, a grandchild, a niece or nephew, a student, a child in your youth group or even a neighbor child. Kids remember and appreciate when adults take TIME for them. It truly is the best gift you could ever give a child. 

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