'Lasting Memories' with Children are Priceless
It's the simple things that make a parent-child relationship special.
The best things in life are free.
It's a phrase that’s been caught in the cobwebs of the American lexicon for longer than I’ve been around and is obviously debatable in practical terms. But it does have its moments of truth.
Parenting is full of those moments; free moments that create lasting memories.
As we age, what we find impressive and important shifts. Our humor matures and our interests evolve. This generational gap in personality can often prevent opportunities for these free moments between children and their parents.
For example, on Wednesday my seven-year-old son Johnny and I had to run some errands. We needed to pick up a few groceries from Aldi a few miscellaneous items from Target. On the way out of the Target parking lot, Johnny pointed out what seemed like a million dandelions on a grassy median between the parking lot we were leaving and the gas station next door.
A childhood memory flashed in my mind of me running around Grant Park, kicking dandelions in the air and blowing their little seed-puffs into the wind.
So I pulled over in the parking lot and we got out and did just that. The two of us, running around the median between a Target and a gas station, pulling up dandelions and throwing them at each other and kicking their heads off of their stems, laughing like idiots.
It was a very childish thing to do, but it was fun and it was free. Sure, things like this can be, or at least seem beforehand, embarrassing to an adult. Adults are supposed to have matured beyond dandelion destruction. But that doesn’t mean your kid has. And spending ten minutes doing something silly and unexpected will likely cement itself as a memory they don’t forget.
It’s very much like that classic gift-giving situation: get a child a big, expensive, elaborate toy and they spend the entire day playing with the box it came in.
As adults, we’re impressed by the practical use, functions, design, durability and so forth of a toy. We understand the implications of cost, shopping and thought that goes into the gift and react appropriately. Kids offer honest excitement about whatever compels them or impresses them at any particular moment. If they get a hold of a giant box and realize it could be a fort, don’t expect them to give any care to the aesthetics and features of the gift that came in it.
Johnny and I bought a $2.50, soft, over-sized Frisbee the other day and went outside to play catch. Within a half-hour, we had already began amusing each other with silly tosses and invented games like Frisbee tag. All it took was a little time together and we developed some fun that was just for us.
It doesn’t necessarily matter what you’re doing with your kids, it’s the fact that you’re doing something with them. Spending time, actually putting in the minutes, with our kids will inevitably lead to special moments, whether with the toy or the box. And those memories can be treasured equally by parents and kids because they aren’t built on expectations, they happen organically when you put your minds, and spend your time, together.