I’d be the first person to admit that I have two very spoiled boys! Between their dad, my ex-husband, and I they are able to enjoy and participate in an extremely wide variety of things. And for those things, they have all of the clothes, equipment, games, gear, toys, and on and on. We try to teach them modesty and to understand that they are very privileged to live in such a way, but they are young and this is the only life they know.
Dad is all about the farm life, outdoor living, animals, dirt bikes, hunting, sports, and ice fishing. You name it, if it’s happening outside, he’s all in. Our boys have riding horses, draft horses, goats, chickens, and dogs. They play baseball, soccer, football, and football. They each have a four wheeler and a dirt bike. They’ve got several rifles, bows, and pistols for hunting and target practice. You guessed it, they have every new ball, new shoe, ball and batting gloves, fuel for their toys, ammo for their guns, saddles, bridles, riding boots, and equipment. Any single thing they need to experience all of these things in a big way.
Mom is more metro, although I enjoy most of those other things too. We paint, craft, play video games, go see the newest movies, get excited about new books that come out, go snowboarding and skiing, shop, camp, theater, museums, restaurants, and go on several travel adventures near and far. Yup, you guessed it again, I’m gifting them with things and planning things for us all the time.
I’m just trying to set the stage for you. I feel like I do a lot for my kids. I am trying to provide things and life experiences for them to make them well rounded and educated youngsters, as well reward them with fun and excitement for their hard work in school and overall good behavior. I think most parents are attempting to do the same thing, all of us at different levels, all of us in different ways.
With this in mind, let me share a little story with you. Two years ago, for Simeon’s birthday I bought him a suitcase. He always had to borrow one of Grandma’s when we would go on a trip and I thought it was time for him to have his own. That in itself didn’t seem like a very exciting birthday gift for an eight year old, so I put a note inside that said something to the effect of, “With every new suitcase, comes a new adventure! So what do you say? Let’s go to Las Vegas and see what we can see.” I know what you’re thinking right here, take an eight year old to Las Vegas? Chill! There’s so much kid friendly stuff to see there, plus I wanted to take him to the Hoover Dam. Not to mention, I had airline miles to get there and an essentially free room.
We took off for our long weekend adventure in Las Vegas! We stayed at Circus Circus, saw the circus, did the indoor amusement park, rode and rode and rode the rollercoasters, walked the strip, watched the fountains, saw the tigers, flamingos, and gardens, we took pictures of the statues (insert little boy giggles for all of the “wieners” he stood by), saw street performers, ate at some really cool restaurants, shopped, went to David Copperfield’s show, drove out to the Hoover Dam, walked all the way to Arizona (haha), zip-lined down Fremont Street, and had ice cream at least three times! I filled up almost all of our time with activity and exploring. Each night after we could make it back to the room, we would play Go Fish on the bed in the room and dish about the day. On the very last day we laid by the pool for a few hours before we had to leave for the airport. Side by side on two lounge chairs, people watching, reading books, sharing a set of earbuds and listening to music, and soaking up the sunshine.
On the plane home I asked Simeon what his what his favorite part of our vacation was. To my absolute surprise he said, “Playing Go Fish with you. Everything else was super cool mom, especially having our very own driver in those Ubers, but my favorite part was just having all of you to myself playing cards and laughing.”
I instantly teared up. Now I know that he had a great time on our trip. He talked about it for months, to everyone and anyone. It still comes up sometimes. I had an “ah-ha” moment that day though, it’s not about the stuff. We know this as adults, we talk about it, we believe we live it. We think that we are giving them what they want and need through all of our ways, and don’t get me wrong, all of the time and attention we give our kids is valuable to them. That’s the thing, the biggest gift that we can give them is our undivided attention, to spend time with just them without distractions, to listen to them speak their minds, to hear what’s on their dear hearts. They want to see us happy to be enjoying their company. They want to see the smile that’s on our face actually touch our eyes. They want mom to slow down enough to laugh and be silly, to let the plans go and be spontaneous, to let the mess be and enjoy the moment.
I was reminded of this again just this past weekend. We’d been busy all weekend. Bowling on Friday night, college football get together on Saturday, and on Sunday when I asked them what they’d like to do… I got a meek response from both of them. They asked if we could just stay in our pajamas all day, sit on the couch together, read story books, and watch movies. My little guy, Parker, said, “Momma, maybe you could just take turns cuddling us all day!”
As we enter into the holiday season, when thankfulness, gift giving, and family are on our minds, don’t forget this little lesson from my kiddos! Give your loved ones the gift of your time. Put down the phone, put away the to-do list, shut the lid on the laptop, whatever the thing is that pulls you away. Give them your undivided attention, however much you’re able, and you’ll give them the most precious gift of all.