The Gift of Time

Do you remember getting your first watch? I remember getting mine for Christmas when I was in third grade. Watches were a big deal--expensive and something to really take care of. Today, getting a watch feels like no big deal--for $5 you can get a decent-looking one, or two or three, at Kmart. You can even get one for your young child complete with the Teletubbies.

E will be getting her first watch for Christmas. She's been wanting a watch for a long time, but she has had to wait until third grade and until she has learned to tell time. Of course, for years now she has been able to tell us the time by reading a digital clock, but she hasn't understood time. And, developmentally, she hasn't been really aware of time--where she is in time. She's about to turn nine and she's truly present in her body in both space and time. It's now time for that watch.

Chalkboard drawing in her classroom

It's all too easy to give children things before they are developmentally ready. This year, we let H buy her own ipod. We had thought we'd wait until age 13, but she really wanted it and had earned enough money. Well, she isn't ready for it. She's just not that into hanging and listening to music, and it has raised lyrics issues that she doesn't even comprehend. If we had waited, it would have been all the more special to her. Aah, you learn so much from the first child!

As parents it's easy to get excited about buying the toy *you* want. It's easy to buy the toy the child really wants. It's harder to step back and think about the gift of time. By waiting on the watch, we've been giving E the gift of time. We've been giving her the gift of anticipation. We've been giving her the gift of achievement. We've been giving her the gift of an unhurried childhood. It only we could be this intentional with all the gifts we give our children!

Suzanne  – (December 19, 2007 at 1:03 PM)  

What a wonderful reflection on our children's childhood. To give them an unhurried one is not always easy, thanks for the reminder:-)

patience –   – (December 19, 2007 at 2:18 PM)  

I love the idea of being mindful about the presents we give our children - not just whether they'd like it, use it, and appreciate it, but whether it is right at this point in their development.

I did have to laugh about the watch thing though. I hated getting watches as a child. I thought it was such a boring gift! Infact I hate getting them as an adult, and buy the cheap ones for myself. But my own dd was delighted when I got her one for Christmas last year.

ilse –   – (December 19, 2007 at 3:45 PM)  

I also remenber getting my first real watch. It was a gift from my grandmother when I turned 12.

you describe it in a wonderful way. Giving presents to a child should not be about, the things you want to give here, but consider and think, if she's ready for the gift.
We give are children so much and all so easy, waiting and wanting for that special present is so important, thye really can bring the present into their hearts, and not just only their mind because the WANT to have it.
Thank you for this reminder !

Dawn  – (December 19, 2007 at 4:16 PM)  

That is some very wise advice that I will try to remember.

Jennifer  – (December 19, 2007 at 7:15 PM)  

What a lovely way to describe a very challenging part of parenting. We continually struggle through finding what is right for each child - emotionally, developmentally, physically, spiritually. Not rushing them has made us an occasional oddity among our friends - no Star Wars, TV or video games for us. But our children are still so innocent and, well, child-like, and I am so happy.
And now to go back through the Christmas gift pile to weed out whatever we might rather wait on...

Susan  – (December 19, 2007 at 8:46 PM)  

Hi Sarah!
I haven't had much time to post comments lately (or post on my own blog, for that matter!), but I wanted to let you know that I read your blog almost daily; it's one of my favorites. I really like what you shared in this post--good thoughts about how important it is to not hurry time with our children.

Karin  – (December 20, 2007 at 6:45 AM)  

That to me is so true. Thank you for reminding me, there is not just the gift itself....there is so much around it...

Margie –   – (December 20, 2007 at 9:23 AM)  

Hi Sarah,
I, too, read your blog daily, and I enjoy it so much.

It's funny, because like you, we have always struggled with the appropriate age to give gifts (piercing ears, cell phone, etc.) Now that my oldest is 14, she's ready for this stuff, and it is such a welcome relief to be able to see the joy in her face when she receives something that she has been wanting for what seems forever. Now the problem is that there's so much of what she can have that we have to budget what we can give to her. Now it's our limitation, not hers.

Tara  – (December 20, 2007 at 9:27 AM)  

I'm all for this post! Hub and I had a similar discussion in picking out T-Bird's gifts this year. She asked for an i-Pod shuffle, which I think she's ready for, but hub wanted to get her the one with the video screen. Uh, I think not!

Rick  – (December 21, 2007 at 10:32 AM)  

I had not thought about it in years, but I do remember my first watch. A birthday gift - I must have been in 4th grade. It had a gray wrist band. Wow - I do remember!!

Jenny  – (December 23, 2007 at 1:58 PM)  

Our children have all had to wait until their 10th birthday for their first watch.We felt that they didn't need to be concerned about time before then. My mother was given her first watch as a 21st birthday present in recognition of her adulthood.Funny isn't it.

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