September 5, 2008

It’s All Good / Patti Lamb

The best part of the day? Coming home

Patti LambThe value of our dollar is dropping, food packages are getting smaller and gas prices are climbing. So we didn’t take a vacation again this year.

Pictures of the ocean in books will suffice just fine. We cannot economically justify a trip to Florida, we reminded ourselves, so we were determined to do whatever we could to make for a fun day here at home.

Daddy took the day off from work, and we decided to make it a special one. We went to The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis.

And we pulled out all the stops. My son got to ride the carousel, and he was treated to a sweet snack from the café at the museum.

On the way out, he was allowed to choose one toy under $10 to take home as a souvenir from our “vacation.”

The icing on the cake was our surprise stop for breadsticks with cheese sauce—a true family favorite—as we drove back to the west side of town.

On the way home, we played one of our favorite games. We learned it from our friend, who is always celebrating the best of life, especially since she lost her mom to cancer a few years ago. I think she has learned to value time in a whole different way.

Anyway, we played in the car on the way home. The game was to give everyone a turn sharing his or her favorite part of the day. I went first. I said that my favorite part of the day was seeing Curious George at the museum.

Next it was my son’s turn, and so I asked him, “What was your favorite part of today?”

“Hmmm …, ” he thought out loud. There was so much to choose from. Would it be the carousel? The face painting? The new toy from the gift shop? Or possibly the breadsticks?

“My favorite part …, ” he paused. There was so much to take in and it was overwhelming. After all, he’s only

3 years old.

Finally, he declared proudly after rigorous thought, “My favorite part was coming home.”

Did he just say that? I was stunned. I looked at my husband in awe.

“Not the carousel?” I asked. “Not the new toy?”

Sometimes I think kids are a little more in tune than we give them credit for. He knows what is real. The genuine comfort and security and the “know you’re loved” feeling that we receive at home is the best part of any day.

And as Christian parents, that’s the best thing we can do: to provide a stable, warm home environment where our children learn love, faith, discipline and self-confidence.

We shouldn’t beat ourselves up if we can’t provide fancy vacations or stellar new sneakers or the newest video game system. That might be a brief patch to keep everyone content, but it will pass.

Being able to know you can go home, where you’re loved no matter what, is the greatest thing.

In my mind, to be able to provide that for our children, no matter what their age, is a real and valid vocation.

(Patti Lamb, a member of St. Susanna Parish in Plainfield, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.)

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