Special Events vs. Everyday Life

Birthday or Christmas gifts vs. small gifts throughout the year
A 2-week family vacation vs. the rest of the summer
A Saturday AYSO soccer game vs. play around the house the rest of the week

'We have to earn our wings everyday,' said Frank Borman, CEO of Eastern Airlines decades ago.  I believe we parents should strive to earn our wings everyday, not just on weekends or on special events.

I’ve come to realize that special events don’t make up for what happens to children in everyday life. In other words, what really matters to them is what happens to them day-to-day.

Our children are alive at every moment in time. They’re constantly thinking, probing, and growing. To most of us parents who lead busy lives, it might sometimes seem that our children’s lives are like an edited movie, a series of the times they spend with us that are most memorable to us. However, we need to acknowledge to ourselves that the time they spend away from us may be as important to them, or even more important, than the time they spend with us. Of course, special events are better than nothing. Birthday and Christmas gifts can be wonderful, as can family vacations and Saturday soccer games, but these will never make up for mundane everyday lives.

On the other hand, I think we should focus more on things like the following:

  • coming home regularly with gifts, not necessarily expensive ones, that delight our children;
  • providing our children with materials and playmates for fun and learning everyday throughout the summer; and
  • creating a stimulating infrastructure for everyday life for our kids in and around our houses

Special events are icing on the cake. They’re nice, but not necessary. My wife and I never give our kids birthday or Christmas gifts, but they’re not deprived at all. We give them wonderful things that they cherish all year.

We do go on family trips together, but I’m certain that the wonderful neighborhood environment my wife and I have helped create for them is far more important. We’ve created a front and back yard that have become popular neighborhood hangouts, and we have worked hard to encourage other children and parents in our neighborhood to come outside and play with us. My wife and I hope that these activities may help form neighborhood relations that carry on when we’re not at home, but our kids are.

Great joy and fun and learning happens everyday at our house because of the foundation we’ve built there. I often return home for dinner to see our kids running and screaming with other neighborhood kids. They don’t live from special event to special event. They live day-to-day, and it’s been pretty exhilarating for them from what I can see.

Of course, we’re far from perfect. Just like all kids, my kids have boring, empty days. We’ll keep working at making their everyday lives as vibrant as we can and let the special events take care of themselves.

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2 Responses to Special Events vs. Everyday Life

  1. Eva_Allen_FB says:

    I agree with you that the everyday is important, and worth attending to. However, I would argue that as children age, the memories that endure are those of exceptional events that stand out from the daily routine. For example, I have few memories of my parents putting me to bed at home, but vivid memories of falling asleep in a tent in the rain; and I have very few memories of 7th or 9th grade, but strong memories of the 8th grade year I spent living in a different town.

    We should indeed make our kids’ everyday lives as vibrant as we can, but never forget the occasional icing on the cake.

  2. Mike Lanza says:

    Actually, Eva, your comment supports my point because the memories you have are not events that your parents would have thought at the time were special events. They were seemingly mundane, everyday moments. Kids often grab onto these sorts of moments that we don’t recognize as memorable at the time.