I drove one of my sons to a birthday celebration tonight. I’ll ignore, for at least the moment, that the “party” was held about 20 miles from my home and that it included, eighteen holes of golf, lodging in a villa, meals and who knows what else. When did sixteen and seventeen year old boys start meriting that kind of party?
But I digress.
As I was saying, I drove my son to a birthday celebration and, as I was driving, realized that I had driven the same road with him about eight years ago when I took him to a spring training baseball game. I mentioned that to him and he responded, “You took me to a spring training game? When? I don’t remember it.”
I tried to jog his memory, but it quickly became clear that there was no memory to jog. He did not remember the spring training game. That prompted me to talk about other things that I did with him when he was much younger. Nope. He did not remember any of that stuff, either.
That’s when it hit me. I should have learned how to use Photoshop. When I was spending all sorts of money taking my kids to sporting events, shows, museums, petting zoos, movies and everything else that my wife and I did with our kids, I could just as easily have been using Photoshop to create the impression that I had done all those things.
For example, I love museums. I could have saved a lot of money on their admission prices and gone to the museums by myself, taken a few photos and then used my computer to put my kids into the photo. “What?” I would say “You don’t remember going to the museum? We have a picture of it right here!” It would have been so simple and it would have saved us a bundle over the years!
Of course, I am kidding…sort of. I have known a lot of parents who have occupied their kids’ every waking moment with activities. They go to this event or that event but the kids don’t really drink in the experience, especially when they are young. It may be a nice thought to take young children to all sorts of different events in order to help them to be well rounded and worldly, but parents should always realize that every child is different and each child is ready for pro sports events or concerts or museums at different times.
When planning activities for kids, try to think about who the child is at the time of the event and choose events that will resonate with the specific child. I took my younger son to a lacrosse game last week. He enjoyed it, but his younger friend was bored. Eighteen months made a huge difference in their experience. My son will remember the lacrosse game, but I am sure that his friend will not. We could just as easily have Photoshopped his friend into a picture of the game and he would have gotten as much out of it.
At the same time, I realize that I have the memories of doing lots of things with my sons that they do not remember. Eating fresh apple donuts at an orchard on Cape Ann in Massachusetts, visiting Montreal and taking a ride in a horse drawn carriage, hosting a scavenger hunt for a kindergarten class at a Harvard museum. These are hugely valuable memories to me.