There's a phrase that's become popular over the past few years that fills me with wonder. That phrase is "quality time." We've all heard it, and we all seem to accept it as a real concept. But to the average country person, that phrase is difficult to comprehend.
Here's what I mean. Last summer, my 10-year-old son Cody and I spent an entire day walking the fields, checking fences. When we saw a post that needed straightening or a strand of wire that needed to be tightened, we set right to work. Sweat poured across our faces, our shirts grew soaked from the hard work we were engaged in. But as we strained against the task at hand, we talked about his little league baseball team and how he could improve his hitting to the opposite field.
Then, as we walked a little farther down the fence line, we laughed till we cried when a covey of quail nearly gave us a heart attack as they exploded out of the grass in front of us. We heard the amazingly varied call of a cardinal in the woods off to our right. We saw two red-tailed hawks circling lazily over our heads, and marveled at how they could see field mice at such a height.
It was a typical day for us, father and son. We weren't doing anything "special." We were working. And yet, I know from similar experiences with my own dad when I was Cody's age that days like these would be the ones that came to mind once he'd grown up and had children of his own.
So I ask again: was that "quality time?"
Think back to your own childhood. What things do you remember most about your parents? Was it the fact that your dad worked 16 hours a day at the office, and fell asleep on the couch on the weekends because he was too exhausted to move? No, I'm willing to wager that's not what you remember. More likely, you remember the time you went for a long walk along the country road in the rain and came home looking like not only something the cat had dragged in, but something he'd dragged in and forgotten under the refrigerator for a month.
It's been said that kids spell "love" ... t-i-m-e, and I couldn't agree more.
So the next time you hear yourself thinking that you'll make it up to your daughter when she asks you to play "Chutes and Ladders" for the seven millionth time, remember: your kids are watching you, and it doesn't matter how young they are; they know how to spell the word "quality," too.
Strangely enough, to our kids, the word "quality" is spelled exactly the same as the word "love."
They're both spelled T-I-M-E.
From the book Spider's Big Catch
© 2004. Gary E. Anderson. All rights reserved.
About The Author
Gary Anderson is a freelance writer, editor, ghostwriter, and manuscript analyst, living on a small Iowa farm. He's published more than 500 articles and four books. He's also ghosted a dozen books, edited more than 30 full-length manuscripts, produced seven newsletters, and has done more than 800 manuscript reviews for various publishers around the nation. If you need writing or editing help, visit Gary's website at www.abciowa.com.