By Gary Anderson
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,"
Strangely enough, to our kids, the word
"quality" is spelled exactly the same as the word
They're both spelled T-I-M-E.
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.