It just takes a few minutes to make kids feel important

January 03, 2003|by LISA TEDRICK PREJEAN

It just takes a few minutes to make kids feel important

Once upon a time there was a mother whose children were bouncing off the walls.

They had been fighting all morning. Echoes of "That's mine!" and "Don't touch that!" rang in her ears.

She couldn't concentrate, so she put her work aside, pulled their jackets out of the closet, matched up their mittens and directed them toward the door.

"We're going to take a snow walk!" she said, more cheerfully than she felt. This was not what she had planned for the day. But she had learned one thing as a mother: With little ones underfoot, interruptions are the only plans you can really count on.

Her children reluctantly followed her out the door, their eyes squinting at the bright rays bouncing off the freshly fallen lawn-covering.


Her mind was moving fast, as mothers' minds often do, trying to devise some way to channel this seemingly endless energy into something constructive.

"Let's see who can find a rainbow!" she blurted through the complaining moans of her kin.

Eyes rolled, hands went on hips, and the oldest one spoke up.

"It's not raining, Mom!"

She looked up, cast a nod in his direction, clasped his hand in hers and said, "Yes, that's true, but rainbows aren't only found in the sky. Sometimes you have to stoop to see the beauty."

They started slowly, but soon tackled this task with keen interest and then utter delight.

They forgot about earlier squabbles as they gazed in puddles, at icicles, even in the reflections of their mother's sunglasses.

(Secretly each wished they had listened to her before coming outside. Hadn't she told them to put on their glasses? The sun really is bright, just like she said.)

The mother smiled as she observed them. They were taking turns and talking politely to each other.

They tried to see who could make the biggest splash in a puddle of melted snow.

They studied animal tracks and tried to guess which critter made each print.

With chubby fingers, they traced the course of an airplane making its way across the sky.

They giggled and sang silly songs they made up as they went along.

What did their happiness cost?

About 15 minutes of their mother's time and energy. It was an investment that set the tone for the remainder of the day.

When they came back inside, they were content to play together.

The waning appeal of new Christmas toys wasn't as disheartening, and it sure was nice to see a smile dance on mother's lips. All were feeling a bit invigorated by winter's briskness.

It took effort, but mother was glad to have changed course.

So many times parents become frustrated when children interrupt plans. But, as many empty-nesters have noted, these interruptions last for but a season. We should view them as opportunities to teach our children about life, about others and about themselves.

They often only want five or 10 minutes from us, but those little nuggets can make the difference for an entire day.


When we take time for our children, we show them that they are important.

And all will live happily ever after ... or at least until we're needed again.

Lisa Tedrick Prejean writes a weekly column for The Herald-Mail's Family page. Send e-mail to her at

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