Over the holidays, my family and I spent time house sitting for friends back in Sydney. Having lived there for 10 years it was nice to get back to the old stomping ground, catch up with friends and do the tourist thing with the boys. Katie and I took great pleasure in planning our Sydney adventures for the boys. From aquariums to zoo’s, parks to beaches, ferries to trains, we were going to show the boys a great time in the big smoke! I’m pleased to say that we did have a great time. The boys enjoyed the attractions and locations, they loved little treats like ice-cream and take-away food and had fun meeting new kids to play with as we caught up with old friends. It was just as I’d hoped and predicted. The one thing I didn’t predict was what their highlights were going to be as they reflected on the holiday over dinner one evening.

In our house, we often play a game called highs and lows. It’s pretty simple; everyone has to talk about the best thing about their day and the worst thing. It’s great for promoting conversation and hopefully instilling a spirit of gratitude as we recognise there are so many things we can be thankful for. So when playing highs and lows about our holiday, each of our boys took their turn to talk. Our littlest one Archie’s high seemed to be something about a dog or possibly a pig… his animated bellowing is often hard to follow! I couldn’t make out his low, but he became visibly upset recalling it so it must have been legitimate! However, when it came to Will and Ben I was expecting all sorts of highs relating to ferries, ice-cream or animals at the zoo but what I got was something quite different. Both boys were unanimous with their high being ‘when we got to throw sticks in the water waiting for the ferry at Manly….’. Throwing sticks! I was quite taken aback. We could have saved hundreds of dollars in tourist attractions plus all the effort of planning action-packed days and just found some water to throw sticks for the boys to have had a great time. To rub salt into the wound, they both cited their low as being when I hurried them away from throwing sticks in the water to get on the ferry!

I don’t know about you, but as parents, we often want the biggest and best for our children, and naturally so. However, it is often the simple things our children find the greatest pleasure in. Forget the shiny new toy inside the box, just give me the box to play with! I have found the challenge for me is resisting the urge to get my boys ‘stuff’ thinking that is what’s needed to make them happy. Having young children at the moment I am constantly reminded that for them to be happy and satisfied, they don’t need new shiny things constantly, as the buzz is only temporary. When they are at their happiest, it is a result of spending time with people they love the most, building relationships and having fun doing simple things. God has made an incredible planet for us to enjoy and care for. Beauty and adventure is all around if only we would stop and take the time to see it. Our children are often better at seeing it than us, as is clearly the case with me sometimes.

As a school community let’s not rush our students through the fun part of growing up. They have plenty of time for that. Let’s foster in them an ability to recognise beauty in our natural world and a desire to get out and explore it. For many of us, taking time to appreciate and be grateful for the simple things is one of the easiest ways to feel close to God himself and build quality relationships. The simple act of taking a walk with the kids and chatting about tree’s, stars or bugs could become one of their best memories. For me, I know I just need to find a dam with water (easier said than done), and spend some time throwing sticks to know that it will be time well spent, without having to spend anything.

Have a great week everyone, Glen