Tuesday, July 26, 2005

What Really Matters

I have noticed over the course of the dozen or so days that I have been travelling in California with my family, sometimes with moderate amusement and sometimes with considerable chagrin, that my son has different priorities than I. This should really not surprise me. After all, we are different human beings. I would not expect him to be a mirror image of me. I don't think the world could handle two of me. One of me is enough. Maybe, it is simply that since we are out of our regular habitat, I notice these things more.

We are in Newport Beach at the moment. This evening, after a lovely dinner at an Italian restaurant in Laguna Beach, a few miles down the road, we stopped at a public park on our way back to the hotel so he could play basketball. My wife and I sat on a bench, enjoying the beautiful view of the Pacific Ocean and the setting sun. He played basketball, practicing his shots and refining his form.

While in Anaheim for a couple of days, I took him to a park there several times, so he could practice his basketball 'moves.' There are a million things to do everywhere, but basketball is all that matters to him.

Well, not exactly. In the hotel rooms, he does hundreds of pushups and crunches daily. When he gets the opportunity, he runs, usually at least 1,500 meters, approximately one mile.

I don't really mind any of this, except when it threatens to interfere with family plans. After all, there are three of us on this trip and we need to satisfy the wishes, as much as possible, of all three. That's only fair. I suppose what my puzzlement is really about, is that I see myself at his age, in 1957, and remember that I would have given anything to have been able to go on a trip like this with my parents. To disappear from home for a whole month, to do all the things we do, to visit so many different places on this trip and others, that was more than I could have imagined at that time.

My parents worked very hard just to keep food on the table, to build a home for the family and to set aside some money for their retirement. We started out very poor, immigrants from post World War II Europe in 1949. By hard work, thrift and perserverance, my parents managed to take care of us all as my brother and I grew up, and themselves after we left home. Along the way, there was little money left over for a lot of toys, vacations or a fancy lifestyle. My parents never complained then and neither am I now. They did what was necessary and responsible, just as I am trying to do now with my own family. I just wonder sometimes why my son appears not to realize how good things really are for him.

He is not ungrateful. It is just that he, like his friends and others of his age, is accustomed to the good life. I try very hard not to make it too good. That would be irresponsible. He is usually the last, among his friends, to get the latest toys or gadgets. Some things I refuse to get for him at all, because I consider them to be frivolous or wasteful. I want him to realize that whatever he gets, he gets because his parents have worked hard and love him and want him to have a better life than they did, not because 'everybody has one,' or he wants to be just like his peers.

I don't think he is oblivious to the places we go or to the things we see, although he often has his nose buried in his Gameboy as we drive along the California coast. I hope that he notices at least some of what we see, that he enjoys at least some of what we do, and that someday maybe, just maybe, he will reflect back on this time and remember it fondly.

One can only hope.


  1. I'm glad you're having a great vacation


  2. Hi Sieg

    I commend you for putting together such a great vacation. To be able to enjoy what you will remember as well as your child all in one vacation is amazing.

    When Stacey was growing up I tried on several occasions to show her our Family History, as well as sights of Canada I thought she would enjoy and appreciate. I was so WRONG.

    To do what you are doing is the best. Everybody wins ! On your last legg of the vacation do something that Zachary will love and then he will want to do it again next year. Leave him with a bang of memories and FUN !!!!!

    I didn't realize time would go by so fast, now Stacey is 19 and all grown up. So she will tell you. What I realy wish is that I didn't put off things, I should have just done them. Worried about it later. I lost the visual excitement of her enjoying life experiences you can only see and truly enjoy as a child. This time around I take more time on what Jordan and Taylor will enjoy rather than what I will enjoy, and God willing I can enjoy them when they will no longer want to be seen in public with me.

    We are leaving for Nova Scotia on Friday and they are so excited to stay with family half of the time and in a Hotel with a pool and slide the other half. No Stacey is not joining us, she would rather stay home than hang out with Mom and little children.

    Take lots of pictures, Have FUN FUN !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    If you miss seeing anything start booking your vacation for next year, before he's all GROWN UP !!! OR XMAS & MARCH BREAK ??

  3. Thanks, Christopher. I hope that I am having as much fun as you are with your new bride. I'll have to check Heather's blog to get the lowdown on that, I guess.

    Best wishes on your future with Heather and her daughter!

  4. Sharon, they say that hindsight is 20/20 vision. There are always things that we might have done differently and I am no exception.

    I am glad that you are taking some time off with Jordan and Taylor and I hope you have a great holiday together. Stacey has her own memories too and when she is a little older, she will let you know one day how much she appreciates all that you have done for her.

  5. Parents seem to spend a lot of time trying to get their kids to enjoy what they enjoy, but it seldom works. Then they say I'm not expecting him to grow up and be like me, even though I could live with that.
    I grew up in the motor city of Windsor Ontario, the oldest of eight kids. My dad was a hard working wise man who came up with an idea on how to get the kids to go along with a scheme which would give dad the chance to listen to the Detroit Tigers baseball broadcast on our floor style Philco radio. He agreed that if we would not interrupt his listening enjoyment, on those Sunday afternoons when the Tigers played a double header, and won, he would take all of us to the Peerless Ice Cream parlor on Wyandotte street, and buy each of us a double header ice cream cone of our favourite flavour.
    Even to this day, seventy years later, I still order a double dip when I buy an ice cream cone. So you see Sieg, you may be having an influence on Zach that may take a life time to take hold. Wild Bill