Now and then it’s good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy.
At the end of the day, the most overwhelming key to a child’s success is the positive involvement of parents.
– Jane D. Hull
I woke up early this morning. I’m not a ‘morning person’ by any standards (at least not yet), but today I had to wake up early. We’re having some repairs done to the house and I had to drain and remove a radiator before the builder arrived, so he could repair the wall behind it.
Preparations for this morning began last night, as we had to clear the room of all our stuff. It didn’t help that we’d been in the process of decluttering our entire home for some days now. We’d also had our central heating system repaired the day before. The house has been turned upside down and now, there is a ton of work to be done. Meanwhile, life goes on as usual. The cooking, the laundry, the homeschooling… all of it still needs to be done. At times like these, it becomes easy to lose sight of why we do all of this.
Just like we could be so busy pursuing happiness that we forget to be happy; we could get so caught up in providing the best for our children (out of love for them) that we forget to actually love them!
As I have come to understand it, children don’t really care about the things we ‘grown-ups’ tend to fret and worry about. They simply care about how much love they get. And to a child, next to love, a parent’s time and attention are the most precious things in the world.
The big home, the good school and the organic food don’t come anywhere close in replacing this. And for us parents too, when we look back on our lives, what will we feel most good about? And what would we regret? My guess is that the time spent together and the memories that we have created will matter the most to us. Not the other stuff.
Thankfully, children are very good at reminding us of what really matters in life. And this is exactly what my daughter Dakota did!
I took a break from my chores to spend time with Dakota, while my wife Shani did a quick trip to the shops and the bank. My mind was still focussed on all the things that I had to do. But Dakota wanted me to play ‘Guess the Puppy’ with her. (This is a game that she invented. Dakota is a ‘crazy dog lady’ in training and has a large collection of stuffed toy dogs. She has names for each and every one of them and the object of the game is to take turns at trying to guess which dog the other person has thought of. This is done by asking a few questions about its size, colour and gender etc.)
Given her love of dogs, Dakota really enjoys this game. And today, she seemed to enjoy it more than ever before. She was a happy child indeed! And the fun didn’t end there, because when I moved back to my chores, her Mum took over and they carried on playing.
Playing with Dakota took my mind off of the seemingly never-ending ‘to do’ list and I was able to relax and have fun with her. But more than this, I realised that I was able to give my child the most precious gift of all: my time and attention (the house was still a mess, but she didn’t even notice)! The fact that I was able to do so during such a busy and tiring time, made it all the more special and rewarding. And for the second time in this post, I will say ‘and the fun didn’t end there’!
Soon after, we were all helping each other to get Dakota dressed and fed so she could be taken to her dancing and drama class. My job was to get lunch ready and then help Dakota eat, while her Mum had her lunch and got everything else ready for their trip to the nearby town.
In the midst of all this activity, Dakota suddenly yells out: “balla” (this means ‘dog’ in my mother tongue – the Sinhala language). This utterance was completely unexpected. Dakota does not know the language, so I had been helping her learn a few words some days before. We didn’t spend much time on this, so this bolt from the blue caught Shani and I by surprise, and we all had a hearty laugh.
This moment brought home to me the truth of who I am and what I want in life. And what I want are moments exactly like this one: simple, yet perfect and magical moments where I am and I feel, only love and happiness. And as every wise parent knows, these moments are easy to come by when we relax and let our children lead the way – when we become more a part of their world, rather than the other way around.