Time, time, time.
If only it were that easy to drum up more of it.
We never have enough of it, of course, when it comes to time for our kids, but I'm one of those parents who has (time and time again) fallen prey to the perilously easy trap of assuming that dedication of some specific attention to my kids just isn't possible. It'll take too long to do that. Maybe tomorrow. Or on the weekend. Or next week sometime...
The funny thing is, on those occasions that I've just thought "to hell with it, let's do that (thing you'd like to try)", it has rarely taken much time at all.
I'll share two quick examples with you.
After the upteenth time reading the fabulous story of Billy Bilby's Barbecue (by Colin Thiele), Master J decided he was rather taken with the bettongs in the story (don't worry, I didn't know what bilbies or bettongs were either before reading this story!). Evidently, Billy managed to get bettongs to come visit him by putting a nice sign up to show where he lived.
If we made a sign showing where J's place was (reasoned J), maybe the bettongs would come to visit his house as well?
Goodness, sighed dad. A whole bloody sign? I mean, nice idea and all, but a quick cardboard one would turn to muck the first time it rained outside, and a real McCoy wooden sign would involve visit to a hardware store, etc., etc.
I choked back that response and said, "Okay, tomorrow let's do it!"
All up, it took one hour. To drive down to the hardware store, select some wood, and pick up a hammer, nails and hand saw (some basic tools we didn't have at the time). To come home, cut the wood, nail it together, paint "Jamie's Place" on it, blow up some balloons and tie them to the sign. J helped out at every stage in that process.
And did the bettongs come that night?
Of course they did! They saw J's sign, bounded right onto it and accidentally popped the balloons attached (as you can see in the picture).
And the sign's still there in the back yard now, making it a handy tool for other 'secret' Australian animals J thinks of inviting over to his place from time to time.
The next little idea came courtesy of the amazing Mr. Maker, who demonstrated on his program one day how to make a pretty cool-looking pencil holder.
Again, when J decided he'd like to make this, the first thought I had was that there just wouldn't be time this week.
But again, I shoved that aside and -- just like Mr. Maker likes to say -- said, "Okay, let's make it!"
Again, this took all of about one hour.
To head down to the local art shop to pick up the basic supplies needed (with J directing the kind shop attendant around to help find the necessary items, brandishing his little list), then head home and put it all together. The list was a fun (and educational) little addition, given J decided on what was needed in the morning and wrote the list himself with some oral help from dad with the spelling. Gave him a real sense of ownership for the project.
So there's a whole two hours of my time, that resulted in a whole lot of magic and fun for Master J - experience that is timeless and priceless. I am, to be quite honest, a real dud when it comes to arty-crafty stuff, but J appears to tolerate my clumsiness... Maybe the time means more to him than any of the tangible products that come out of it.
If only I could do this more often: stop assuming things will take longer than they actually do and instinctively figuring I have less time for my children than I actually do.
I'm working on it!