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Big Time-Spender or Big-Time Spender? August 23, 2007

Posted by TimTheFoolMan in Communication, Family, Flatulence, Fun, Humor, Laughter, life, Love, Parenting/Children, Self-Worth, Sports, Stupidity.

One of the notable songs from Billy Joel’s “Streetlife Serenade” album from 1974 was a song called “The Last of the Big Time Spenders.” The chorus includes the following line:

…I’m the last of the big time spenders
And I’ve been spendin’ time on you,

An eternal truth that’s too easy to forget is that money is distributed unevenly, but time is doled out in equal amounts. None of us get more than 60 minutes in an hour, 24 hours in a day, or 365 days in a year.


Recently, a very good friend remembered my love of “Hook,” the Robin Williams & Dustin Hoffman version of the Peter Pan story, and bought the DVD for me for my birthday. The most significant reason I love this movie? It’s a constant reminder to spend time with my sons, and more important, how I should spend that time.

Buddy, Can You Spare Some Time?
You have 24 hours to spend today. How are you going to spend it? How have you spent it so far?

If you woke up at 6:00 AM (like I did), you’re now down to 18 hours. Going to bed before midnight? Subtract a few more. What’s left? (I’m still at 18 😉 )Are you working an 8-hour day? (Yes, with about 90 minutes of commute time.) What’s left now? (About 8.5 hours.) How much of that will involve your children?

My youngest son gets up at 7:00 AM. Yesterday, I noticed that there were a bunch of things (showering, gathering up gym clothes, getting dressed) that I have been doing between 7:00 and 7:30 (when I leave for work) that I could do before 7:00. I restructured my schedule, and now make sure I’ve done those things before he’s awake, so he and I can spend that time eating breakfast, watching ESPN, talking football, or whatever he takes a notion to do.

Not for Mature Audiences
What do we do on mornings like this? Sometimes, we just enjoy some good, old-fashioned, juvenile humor. Sometimes we don’t say much of anything, and sometimes we talk in-depth about any number of subjects. The point isn’t that we talk about meaningful or important things… the point is that we have time to talk, and that my son gets to determine (to a large degree) how we spend it.

In addition to “Hook” reminding me to spend time with my sons, it reminds to stop being a grown-up all the time. Think about how you typically respond to a tiny baby. Do you use baby talk, play simple (age-appropriate) games like peek-a-boo? Are you gentle and tender? If so, you’re modifying your own behavior to mesh with the child and establish communication.

Why do we stop doing this when our kids become toddlers?

Why is it that I’m frequently criticized for “acting like a kid” with my sons? On a regular basis, people will comment (generally to my wife) about the three of us roughhousing in some public place, laughing too loud, or otherwise causing commotion. Why is it that so many are unable to see the value in being “in the moment” with your child, even if that means acting completely goofy or doing something seriously immature?

Walking the Fine Line
To be sure, there are times that you must be the parent, not be a child, and must consider the lessons that your children are learning from your behavior. Without question they should be able to look at you, and develop a sense of appropriate adult behavior.

Unfortunately, it takes very little time to demonstrate these things, and a reasonably intelligent child can learn those lessons with just a little bit of “adult” behavior every day. How much time do you spend in “adult mode” around your children, as opposed to getting down on the floor and playing with them (or tackling them, or laughing/tickling them, or… you get the idea)?

What are You Investing in?
So if I ask you what your investment in your children is, do you immediately think of how much is in their education fund, how much you’ll spend on their car, or what it costs to raise/feed/clothe a typical child in today’s world? Or, do you immediately think of countless hours you’ve spent at the ball field, laughing around the dinner table, working on school projects, or just silly stuff with your kids? Do you take more pride in the dollars you invest in your child, or the hours?

I’ll make a deal with you. Take one week, and look for 30 minutes each day when you can just hang out with your kids. When they flip over to “South Park” (or whatever show they watch that you’d rather not), put down your book and see what they respond to. Do they laugh at “Mind of Mencia?” Do you know why they’re laughing? Are you wanting to laugh, but worried that you need to put your “I’m mature” hat on instead?

Come on. Step across that line and spend 30 minutes a day. I dare you. I double-dog dare you to cross that fine line, and be a kid again. I bet ya my next week’s allowance that you won’t regret it.


1. Mia - August 25, 2007

It’s early Saturday morning and my two are still sleeping. I love the idea of getting the shoulds done before they wake up. I’m so glad you took the time to write this entry. You’ve blessed me…yet again. The good Lord knows…I was in need of refocusing. =o)

Question – What do you think it means when kids can’t seem to get enough hugs?

2. Marie (the MUCH younger sister) - August 28, 2007

I always enjoy my brother’s entries, especially when they remind me of things I should be doing more. Thanks Tim… Good stuff!

As for Mia’s question (not that you asked ME ;-D), but I’d say kid’s who can’t get enough hugs may have physical touch as their primary love language. This concept from Gary Chapman’s “The Five Love Languages” and “The Five Love Languages of Children” as well as “The Five Love Languages of Teenagers.” Another great one is “The Five Signs of a Loving Family,” also by Gary. http://www.fivelovelanguages.com/forfamilies.html

3. Mia - August 29, 2007

Oh my gosh! Talk about a light bulb moment…
Thank you, Marie =o) I really appreciate you taking the time to provide the link. I followed it and I’m definitely going to pick up a copy of “The Five Signs of a Loving Family”.

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