Counting Time

I don’t have much recordings of exciting moments 40 years ago, but I drew to self-entertained during boring moments and produced these precious drawings that I did of my family when I was 10.

There was only one thing that Christian scripture tells us to count.  It wasn’t money.  Neither was it blessings.

“Teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”

God is fair when it comes to time.  He allocates  to each one of us the same number of hours each day, and the same number of days each week.  What we make of it is up to us.

When our little children protest that we waste their time, are they justified?  Perhaps not when we require them to pick up their toys, clean up a mess they created, walk a distance to the market or visit an unlikeable relative.  But when we place our demand on their time above their own priorities by making them do more assessment papers or attend unnecessary enrichment classes, is it fair to them?

Now, let’s list some things our little children prefer to do with their time:

  1. Play with their friends.
  2. Play by themselves.
  3. Day-dream and watch the clouds.
  4. Read things that interest them.
  5. Dig a hole, build a house.
  6. Sew a dress for a doll.
  7. Draw and colour.
  8. Make music.

Can you name the skills and values that your children will acquire by engaging in these activities?

Some activities are age appropriate and cannot be delayed.  It is common to see 10 year olds playing “hide and seek” or “police and thief” with each other, but it will be odd to have 20 year olds making such play dates for themselves. 

A clinical psychologist taught me that unsocialised children often grow into awkard adults who have limited ability to navigate society.  Here are 2 examples of how children socialise each other during play in groups:

  1. If I behave badly, the others won’t want to play with me.
  2. I behaved badly yesterday.  If I humble myself, apologise and promise not to behave like I did yesterday, they might play with me today.

When we fill our children’s time with our priorities and insecurities in the name of their future’s sake, we rob them of time for THEIR personal discoveries.  Have you met grown-up high-achievers who refuse to work after graduation because they’ve waited all their lives to finish school so that they have permission to play?  Or those who do work and have resources to play, what sort of games do they engage in, what are the stakes?  What are your observations of these people?

Let’s be mindful that we are only stewards of children’s time, and grant them their god-given time to have a childhood they deserve.