September 2011


We held birthday parties for our girls this past weekend.  Olivia has been going on about getting a Nintendo DS for about six months now.  We finally bit the bullet and got her one.  The nice thing about it is she’ll never need a babysitter again.  We can just let her sit with her DS and leave out a bowl of water and food and she’ll be good to go.  The downside is that it can become a black hole sucking in all of her time that she could better spend doing homework, playing outside, or helping around the house.

We already have a love/hate relationship with the DS, but it is a situation that we created, so we’ll just have to deal with it.  We love it when we need Olivia to be occupied, but we hate it when it steals her attention from the things that we deem to be more important (like dinner with her family). 

It is this duality of love/hate that got me thinking about how she perceives the issue.  She’s only six years old, so it is difficult for her to realize that some things are only appropriate for certain occasions.  Mommy and daddy bought the DS for her, so right off the bat we were endorsing it.  We were delighted to see how happy she was when she got it, so we reinforced the concept that we want her to be happy and have it.  We let her play it for a couple of hours while we did housework, so we again sent the message that the DS is a good thing.

The problem comes when we let her know she needs to put it away for a while to eat dinner… or play with her sister… or go to bed.  Then we have to get her to realize that the thing that we once condoned is now to be left untouched.  That can be a confusing message for a six-year-old.

Where do you go overboard?  We get paid to do our jobs… the harder (and often, more) we work, the better we can provide for our families, but we have to remember when it is appropriate to work and when it is appropriate to spend time with our family.  We need to unwind at the end of a long day, but two or three hours of television every night may be more of an addiction than a stress buster.  We want to look nice, thinking that doing so will win the approval of others, but if we spend inordinate amounts of money on clothes and spend half the morning getting ready, we’re probably overdoing it. We take pride in our homes, but if we sacrifice spending time with our children for the sake of eradicating every weed in our yard, we’re missing the boat (that’s a tough one for me).

If you don’t think you’re going overboard, I recommend the following activity.  You should already track your expenses.  If not, keep track of every dollar you spend for a month – you’ll be amazed.  Now, do the same thing with your time.  Make out a schedule and write down what you do every minute for a week.  At the end of the week, total up the time for various categories (work, commute, family, working out, watching TV, etc.).  Note:  watching television in the same room as you family does not count as family time. 

The first thing you will realize is that you actually have more time than you thought.  The next thing you will likely see is that a lot of your time is spent on things that aren’t important.  Is it any wonder why so many people are dissatisfied with their lives?  We want to find significance, but we spend our time doing the insignificant.

I challenge you to carve out one hour of significance a day.  That’s only four percent of your day.  Spend it doing something that will take you toward some important goal (being a better parent/spouse/friend, helping serve those in need, or mentoring someone).  If done consistently, that four percent of your day will revitalize the other ninety-six percent.

I’m in the process of finishing my basement, which left my wireless router somewhere in the rubble – no posting this week.

It was a typical late summer morning.  At the time, I lived in central Florida and worked at a manufacturing plant that made needles and syringes.  I know – exciting.  As I walked between rows of mold press machines, the supervisor of that department stopped me and asked if I knew anything about the plane that hit the World Trade Center. 

I hadn’t heard anything about it.  In my mind, I pictured a small private plane that got off course or had some kind of mechanical failure and hit a building.  I was busy doing something that must have been irrelevant because I can’t remember what it was now.  I didn’t give the news a whole lot of thought and got back to my daily irrelevancy.  A little while later, someone else told me that a second plane hit the other tower.

I decided to go to a conference room that had cable and see what was going on.  It was there, along with a handful of other managers, that I realized the planes that hit the towers were anything but small private planes.  Moments later, the news reported that a plane hit the Pentagon.  Not long after that, the South Tower collapsed.  Almost immediately, the news came of Flight 93 crashing.  My mind started racing.  What was going on?  Who was doing this?  What was going to happen next?  Was this the end?

Finally, I watched as many of you did, as the North Tower collapsed.  I didn’t know what to think at this point.  I felt anger, pity, fear, and confusion simultaneously.  By this time, I realized that whatever it was I was doing all of sudden seemed completely unimportant.  For about 24 hours, we were numb – our emotions drained, we just watched the news for more information and kept asking the same question – why?

I also remember those days and weeks that immediately followed September 11, 2001.  For a little while, we were nice to each other.  We talked.  We listened.  We cared.  Heck, even Republicans and Democrats stood side by side and sang God Bless America together.  All of the sudden our differences didn’t seem to be that big of a deal.  We were more interested in helping each other out than putting each other down.

Let’s not wait for the next tragedy to remind us that we’re all in this thing together.  E pluribus unum.

Olivia lost her first tooth last week.  It’s been looser than our country’s fiscal policies for about three weeks, but she was reluctant to try to pull it out.  She’s been excited about getting a visit from the Tooth Fairy.  She even told me that the Tooth Fairy brought one of her classmates a Nintendo DS.  I informed her that we had a different Tooth Fairy.

Before school last Wednesday, she showed me how loose it was.  “Look daddy, I think it’s getting ready,” she said with her bottom front tooth sticking straight out perpendicular from her face.  I tried to get her to pull it out, but her threshold for pain isn’t exactly heroic in nature.  “No daddy, it will fall out when it’s ready.  I just hope it doesn’t fall out while I’m eating because then I’ll have to poop it out for the Tooth Fairy.” 

No, I don’t think the Tooth Fairy would like that.

It finally came out later that day at kindergarten.  Her teacher gave her a little wooden box in the shape of a tooth to keep her tooth safe until she got home.  On her way home that evening, she kept opening box and inspecting her tooth.  Sara told her to be careful or she would lose her tooth.

Olivia kept playing with the box.

She lost her tooth.

Hysterics ensued.

She no longer had proof for the Tooth Fairy.  Sara finally got her somewhat calmed down and wrote the following letter for the Tooth Fairy:

 

Dear Tooth Fairy –

Olivia lost her first tooth today.  Unfortunately, it fell under her car seat.  Please still come visit her.

Thanks,
Sara

(Olivia’s mom)

 

Fortunately for Olivia, the Tooth Fairy isn’t too strict.  She didn’t get a Nintendo DS, but by the time she loses all of her teeth, she might have enough to buy one game.