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There Is No Such Thing as Quality Time with Kids

Josh and I just experience a great victory together in his pack’s Pinewood Derby. We finished 9th in a field of 37 Cub Scouts. He is a Tiger Cub so we decorated our car like a Tiger Cub. We got 3rd place in the Den Theme thus the ribbon above. We raced 8 times and won 4 races. The top 6 boys got to take their cars to the district race and we missed the cutoff by .06 of a second. This was great for us because to be honest we weren’t sure that our car would even make it across the finish line. You see when it comes to building things with my hands I am a bit challenged (I did have a buddy of mine who coached me through the adult part of the project and lent me some tools to make the car. Thanks, Dave). In Pinewood Derby, they give you a block of wood and 4 wheels with nails for axles and you have to make a car out of it. But, independent of how we did in the contest, the great victory we experienced was time together. We cut, we sanded, we painted, we glossed, we got it weighted to specifications, we lubricated the wheels, we made final adjustments and cheered our car on to victory. In short we made a memory. Memories take time. Our quality moment took quantity time.

One of the biggest dupes every perpetrated on the dads of the world is related to quality time with their children. We have been told that our jobs and other non-family interests prohibit us from spending “quantity” time with our children but we can make that up by spending “quality” time with our kids. That is the biggest load of horse manure (pardon my Arkansas French) every dumped on the institution of fatherhood. There is no such thing as quality time, there is only time. And independent of what The Rolling Stones may say it (time) is not on our side. The Polish have a great proverb that is more accurate: you have your whole life to work but your children are only young once.

Maybe it is because I am an older parent and have nothing else to prove to myself in the marketplace. Or maybe it is because I grew up in a divorced home that left me fatherless at 10 and leaving home at 16 because of my stepfather. Or maybe it is just because I have a great kid. I have a tremendous desire to spend time with my son. My biggest challenge as a dad is to translate that into reality. As men we need to make a switch and begin to keep score by quantity time with our children. Now even as wonderful as my son is there are times when he drives me crazy (I am sure the feeling is mutual). Anytime you mix people together it is inevitable that there will be conflict. Mix in a heavy dose of maturity difference and quantity time can be a frustration time. If most men were honest our own lack of patience with our children and our own lack of maturity is what prohibits us from wanting to spend large spans of time with them. Our wives are much more patient and deal with them so much better so we will play the visiting uncle role and relegate our role to a quality time player. Shame on us!

For the past few years I have watched a friend of mine who put a hold on many of his extra curricular activities to spend time with his teenage boys. I really liked the approach and now that he has launched his boys I see the incredible wisdom of making a decision to spend large doses of quantity time because they leave too soon. One of my most important prayers is that I would live long enough to launch Joshua in adulthood. Lord willing he will not have to go through his teenage years alone like I did. I want to be there to fight him every step of the way and help guide him even if he doesn’t want me to. I look forward to those days of seeing him grow and mature and try to make sense of this big ole world. I have included a classic related to investing well. If you have read this far you have to listen to this song.

You’re Gonna Miss This by Trace Adkins.

This entry was posted in Family.
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