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Thursday, November 11, 2010

Quality Time

Everyone talks about it.  Psychologists spend hours on it.  People dream about it.  But what is it really?  What is this thing everyone calls quality time?  

Wikipedia has this to say about it:

Quality time is an informal reference to time spent with loved ones (e.g., close familypartners or friends) which is in some way important, special, productive or profitable. It is time that is set aside for paying full and undivided attention to the person/matter at hand. It may also refer to time spent performing some favored activity (e.g., a hobby or packing suitcases to move across the world with loved ones). The opportunity to experience quality time, or the actual time available to enjoy quality time is often limited. However, this is outweighed by the importance, intensity or value attached to events or interactions which occur during quality time. Quality time therefore has a degree of emotional or social "quality" which other aspects of personal life may lack.  Busy parents may also use the term to justify the limited amount of overall time they spend with their children.
In terms of critique, it is occasionally pointed out that true quality time with children cannot be rigidly scheduled, but that “quality moments” can happen if there are sufficient opportunities for sharing time and adults adapt to their children's needs and interests.[1] On the other hand, putting time with children into their schedules is a way in which parents can make a commitment that time together is a priority in their lives.[2]

Leaves a lot of room for interpretation doesn't it?

It seems like everyones lives are so busy these days.  Work, school, housework or yard work, homework, errands, church and religious outings, hobbies, sports, extended family, community events, the list goes on and on.  How do you find that elusive quality time with the people you love?  Husbands and wives are just as busy as their spouses, working longer hours to make up for the vanishing security of a good economy.

Teens are working earlier and earlier in their lives and then juggling their own lives of school, home, work and friends or girlfriends and boyfriends.

I know there are times when it feels like I only see my daughter in passing.  This year has been easier since she loaded up on classes her junior year and has a much lighter schedule this year, but then comes the need to work.  She was filling out an application today and put 1 p.m. until 10 p.m. as her available hours weekdays and any for the weekends.  Does that mean the end of our quality time together?

I hope not, but I'm scared.  It seems like she grew up overnight.  I can clearly remember her sitting on my lap watching the other kids hunt easter eggs, and watching her run around with blonde braids streaming out behind her playing soccer.  I remember her holding onto my finger for an hour at night because she wouldn't go to sleep unless her little fingers were wrapped around mine.  I'd try to slip it free and she'd know immediately and just clutch it that much tighter.

I've watched her grow up into a beautiful young woman and I hate to think that I'm going to lose those little quality moments we've learned to share.  Thinking back on my relationship with my own Mother, I know it's going to happen eventually and I know I won't begrudge her having her own life.  That's what kids do.  They grow up and start their own lives.  I know her though and I know I'm silly to be scared.  We're like two halves of a whole in a lot of ways.  We think the same, we feel the same, a lot of times we can finish each other's sentences.  That's how I know she'll never be too far away, but man, the day to day things?  Those I'm going to miss.

Driving home from school and her saying "mailbox" and me saying "tree".  Long story that, but the Cliff's note version is a mailbox with no house and a tree that is nearly horizontal.  Seeing the weird person sitting on the side of the road with a shirt and underwear, barefooted, staring at nothing and spitting out "Dad's team" at the same time.  Going over the Delia's catalog and telling her I like something before I realize she put a star beside it.  Playing God of War and hearing her say "You Are Dead" a million times to make up for all the times I said it to her.  Chasing stray kittens across the yard until we finally manage to catch one.  Walking her bunny rabbit.  Painting random things around the house.  Talking about boys, God, life, responsibility and things that suck.  Exchanging "favorite words".  The list goes on and on and all those moments?  They are all quality moments with my daughter.

They might not be scheduled, but that's the beauty of them.  They're as random as rainbows after a rainstorm or seeing a cardinal on your windowsill.  Maybe the fact that they're not scheduled, or structured, or formal is what makes them quality.  Does sitting down at the dinner table every night qualify?  Or maybe attending the same Christmas play every year?  Sure.  They're just not the same as those magical little moments that aren't planned but stolen for a life that's too busy for us all.

So what is quality time and how do you find it?  That's up to you, but I'd look in the places you least expect and then wonder at how perfect those moments are when they surprise you.


DawnZhang said...

To me quality time is the time I spend in thinking. LOL. So my quality time is when I am walking back home from college. It is so good to observe people and the place.

True that people these days don't have much time. I really have to appreciate my mother who quit her job when I was 3 just so that she could spend some "Quality time" with me. But now I have grown,lol. I don't find bliss in sitting with my mother and talking to her about things that really don't concern me. But childhood is the best. The memories nourish my soul.

Looking at people too now nourishes me. I make up random stories about them and try to fit them to my stories. Works most of the times!

Good luck.

Matt Dimitroff said...

My life isn't busy enough. I don't really have people to spend quality time with.

djpr said...

Well now you do Matt! At least kinda >.>

We've got our little blogging family!

djpr said...

@DZ Nothing wrong with spending quality time with yourself, I think that's something that's often overlooked. So many people try to be everything for everyone and forget to take time for themselves. I've been horrible about doing that, people have expectations from me and I try to do too much, either making myself sick, or just exhausted physically and mentally. Blogging has been wonderful for me time, expressing myself and getting some of the stuff inside me OUT for the whole world to see. So far my blog has been pretty positive and upbeat, but they'll come a time when I'll be at my wits end and post a rampage! Just wait and see! :)

Matt Dimitroff said...

I mean, I have lots of online correspondents, but some irl ones would be nice, too.

I do appreciate the sentiment, though.

DocKev said...

Well, first of all, this post was amazing, and I couldn't agree more. So many memories and she is growing up so fast. But I got to tell ya babe, the whole "Dad's Team" when I'm not there is not fair :p

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