"You can shower a child with presents or money, but what do they really mean, compared to the most valuable gift of all - your time? Vacations and special events are nice, but so often the best moments are the spontaneous ones. Being there. Every moment you spend with your child could be the one that really matters" -- Jim Russert Journalist
I found the above on my Starbucks cup this morning. After thouroughly enjoying my usual white chocolate mocha (for the low, low price of $5.09), I was prepared to toss the iconic white paper cup when the quote caught my eye.
I was reminded of my evening yesterday. Not one to have much patience for loud, screaming children, I had retired to the "kid-free" room of the house. All my siblings, their spouses and children had graced us with their presence to celebrate my brother-in-laws birthday - strangely, he was the only one not present at this moment in my memory. The kids were in the family room playing with a plethora of balloons left over from last week's baby shower. My siblings were gathered around the table playing Space Beans. I sat quietly in the living room with my parents and one month old nephew. Above the obnoxious noise of sqeaking balloons and stomping feet, I heard my brother and his 7 year old daughter singing a little annoying ditty together. Now, the morning after, I can't even remember what it was about, only that I made a comment to my mother.
As much as I have a hard time dealing with all the kids at once, it did my heart and mind a world of good to hear such a ridiculous tune. This proved to me several things. One was that my brother took interest in the world of his children. Not only did he know what they did and liked, he had an in-depth grasp of it all. Two was that he cared. He gently encouraged my niece if she got mixed up on the words and laughed along with her at the end of each verse (and there seemed to be many). Three was that, whether he realized it or not, he was making a moment that mattered. When that little girl grows up, she will look back and remember that Daddy used to (and hopefully still does) sing with her. Daddy cared about her world and Daddy loved her enough to learn a bunch of silly songs so that they could sing them together.
In a world where most children are left to raise themselves, my brother proved to me that functional and loving families still do exist. I'm not sure I've ever told him, but I am proud of him and his family. I love to see them love each other. I love to see the kids well-behaved, well-loved and well-adapted to this crazy thing we call life. In a world where parenting is a lost art, I praise God for the love and discipline that my brother and his wife have graced their children with and can only pray that they will be a great example for all those who surround them.