"The work can wait while you show the child the rainbow, but the rainbow won't wait while you do the work." --Patricia Hart Clifford
When living in Arizona, as I drove to work, the mountains and open sky surrounded me as I moved down the flat highway. I remember one day in particular when the rain fell lightly on my windshield and the sun shone brightly.
A rainbow appeared as vivid as one drawn by a child with wax crayons. Because of the expanse, I easily could see the beginning and end without swerving as I drove.
Twenty-four years later, I remember it like it was yesterday.
No one at work seemed as awed by the sight. But such rainbows were not unusual for those who had lived in Arizona for years -- some for a lifetime.
Here in Ohio, if I want to see a rainbow from my home, I step outside while it is raining and the sun is shining and look to the east. Sometimes I am blessed with the sight, even if the trees and buildings block some of its glory.
I enjoy the possibilities.
Patricia Hart Clifford's quotation above made me think of that morning in Arizona. I think of the wonder we can show our children. The possibilities.
In this day of electronic devices in our pockets almost all the time -- or at least nearby -- it might be easy to be so distracted that we miss the beauty of a rainbow's colors and shape.
We can look up a multitude of photos on the internet on those same phones and say, "How beautiful!"
But the photos would be missing the expanse, the grandeur. I prefer to step into the fresh air or gaze out a window and look up, not down at a tiny screen.
Cellphones were not common in 1995. When I saw that rainbow in Arizona, had I the ability to stop the car to snap a photo, it would have been lacking.
Instead, my mind captured it -- and no one can erase it.
Giving time to our children is more important than just about anything we can offer, outside of food, clothing and shelter. Teaching them to think and wonder and dream is a gift they will always have, even on dreary days with no rainbows. Daydreaming would be a wonderful distraction for our children -- as long as it's not during school.
Recently, one of my brothers was telling our mother that it seemed children didn't play outside as much as we once did. I told her I remember washing my feet before crawling into bed on summer days.
When I do hear a child playing outside and hear the shrieks of delight in play, it makes me smile. An elementary school is a couple of blocks from our house. On some days, I can hear children during recess laughing and obviously having fun.
If a rainbow or interesting cloud formation appears in the sky, at least they are in a position to be able to look up and wonder. I hope the teachers would make a point of showing and encouraging them to daydream.
Our days do seem to be so busy. I remember when our children were young and I worked outside the home. It was difficult to fit everything into a day and have time to spend with our children.
We had an advantage that is now gone, unless parents take the initiative: We had fewer distractions. No cellphones. No computers. Landline phones with one line. If someone was on the phone, the others in our family had to wait their turn. Someone calling in would get a busy signal, not voicemail.
Now I sound like my parents or grandparents sounded when I was young. "When I was your age, we didn't have ... "
"We had to walk to school uphill, in the snow ... "
Many things from our past are worth holding onto. We still have only 24 hours in each day. But we can make each moment photo-worthy.
Local author Liz Thompson writes the Day by Day column for ThisWeek Community News. Contact her at email@example.com.