But his sweet gratitude for such simple things stuck in my mind.
We try to do things that will create lasting, positive memories. And, admittedly, sometimes we try too hard. Several years ago, the travelling exhibit of Body Worlds was in Salt Lake. We lived in Utah at the time and thought that our curious four and six year old kids would love seeing the intricacies of the human body displayed in such an astonishing way.
After paying a LOT of money for the four tickets and spending forever taking in all the details of each display, we found ourselves at the end where the ushers neatly guided us into the gift shop and to a few external exhibits. The kids were very interested in these free displays and when we later asked them, “Well, what did you like most about the visit?” they quickly replied, “The gift shop and the experiments.”
Well, we sure could have saved a lot of money had we known a visit to the gift shop and the public displays would be their favorite things of the day.
It almost always happens that the times when we spend lots of money on something, the kids end up enjoying the free (or close to free) parts best. For Olivia’s first birthday, we made an adorable cake and went to the park with friends and family who all gave her lots of fancy toys. When we got home, instead of being entertained by all the flashing lights and whistling, moving pieces of her new treasures, she spent hours pulling tissue, piece by piece, from the Kleenex box, unrolling toilet paper from its roll, and very methodically removing books from the shelves, making sure to inspect each one carefully, as if deciding whether she’d read that one, before setting it on the ground and removing the next.
But the lesson that the kids routinely teach me, and that I am slowly learning (but still maybe in-time) is that we don’t have to spend a lot of money to have lasting memories. I know that I didn’t have lots of money as a child, and I grew up normal and happy. And grateful too. So I’m not sure why I think I have to drop tons of money on timepiece outfits for school or on fancy water equipment that will last one summer and no longer. The quote “The most important things in life aren’t things” is meaning more to me.
I’m also learning that we actually ARE giving the kids the things we had when we were growing up ourselves. The things that truly make lasting memories. They are hugs and holding hands. Walks to the canal together. Late night movie nights in our PJs with popcorn pieces crunched into the blankets and rug. Mom-son trips to the library. Father-daughter trips to the humane society. Family walks along the green-belt. Backyard water parks. Night swimming. Frosty, brain-freezing sno-cones.
“Thank you that we could go swimming and get sno-cones.” Yes, Thank You for that.