Give your kids the gift of time

It is my father’s birthday today (Nov. 29). I loved that we shared the same day number for our birthdays, as though that made our connection greater; that only he and I could understand.
I miss him and I think of him every single day. I wish we could sit together and remember, and look ahead and talk about the now, this moment, and not worry about what has happened and not fret about what might be, but truly connect in the present.
I’m not sure I’m very good at that.
I recently watched a film documentary, “All the Time in the World,” made by a woman, Suzanne Crocker, here in the Yukon–a film that has been very well-received and respected.
In 2014, the family of five, including children aged 10, eight, and four, moved into the wilderness for nine months to live without electricity, without running water, and to exist in a very small cabin with a dog and two cats.
Suzanne explained that “to get the freedom of time, we had to free ourselves from the structure of time.”
The story and film held me spellbound without moving for 87 minutes and that is a considerable feat for me. The film captured the essence of their adventure, surviving the force of winter, creatively and co-operatively solving the challenges they faced.
The children played active roles in all aspects of their survival. They worked together, played together, and, at the end of the day, they lay side by side in sleep, the dog and cats joining them.
Their entire experience was about being in the moment. They were able to suspend the demands of life that we deem ordinary, such as community obligations, social media connections, our personal physical appearance, and the like.
This family had no clocks–the only awareness of the passing of time was daylight. And in the deep of winter, they slept 12-14 hours a day; a semi-hibernation of sorts.
They celebrated holidays, they played a lot of pretend, and they read aloud more than 50 books.
It would be difficult to choose a permanent existence of that sort, but the gift of time was given to their children; their lives intertwined totally and completely.
The film is an excellent example of parenting and all new parents might want to give it a watch. We can’t all explore into the wilderness in that manner, but we can give our time to our children in a meaningful way–creating a life of experience rather than a life of consuming and getting lost in technology.
Their story allowed me to remember my pre-school years, my dad and me, and our adventure of farming.
We were together, me following him and he giving of his time for me, and it was opportunities on most days to just be: my dad explaining what he was doing, handing me a hammer to drive a staple into a fence post or a nail into a corral board, collapsing on the hill by the river and watching the water hurry by, and letting the sun warm our faces.
Of all the things my childhood and my life have offered me, those moments with my father, when he shared his day with me, were the most precious. And most days, I am aware the longing for him still exists; longing from my very grateful heart.
Happy birthday, Dad.
wendistewart@live.ca

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