Dad, thanks for reminding me to have fun
When my dad turned 50 I was the last child left at home, so my mom and I were the only ones around to celebrate on his actual birthday. We went out to dinner and on the way home my dad said he wanted to go to a playground. I thought he was joking, but he wasn’t. He turned into the closest elementary school, drove all the way to the back parking lot and parked the car by the playground. He jumped out of the car, ran to the playground, and started climbing up the ladder. At first I was shocked at what was really happening and then I got out of the car and started playing too. We laughed uncontrollably and played like we were kids again. I remember thinking that when I turned 50 I hoped I would be spontaneous enough to go down playground slides too.
I can’t remember any other times quite as playful and spontaneous as this experience, but my dad always made it a priority to plan outings and fun activities. However, even though my dad focused on making time for fun doesn’t mean that he was all about play. In fact, I think I learned more about the value of hard work from him than I did anything else. Work before play was the mantra we were always told while growing up. Each Saturday we had chores to complete and it was expected that we do those before we could ask to go play. It was the same with school work. I remember rarely having to do homework late at night or on Sunday nights because it was ingrained in me that I finish the work that was expected of me before I went out with friends or played. This still carries into my life today; I am able to manage my time well and finish the things I need to. Then I enjoy the fun even more because I’m not thinking about what needs to get done and I know I won’t have to return home to work.
Planning for my needs before my wants also applied to spending habits. My dad is a financial planner, and at a very young age he helped me open a savings and checking account and taught me how to allocate my money with the allowance I earned. By the time I was babysitting and working paid jobs I was tracking everything I spent and saving a portion of everything I made. He also taught me the excitement of setting a goal for something I wanted and then steadily working until I reached it. This is how I learned that when you take care of the things you need to do then there is time and money to do the things you want to do to. I would golf with my dad every week, and at least once a year our family would go on vacation. We also occasionally rented movies, went bowling, had picnics in the mountains, played sports together as a family, went for walks, and participated in music lessons and sporting teams. I learned that simplicity was just as fun as something extravagant.
Although I learned to set aside money and spend time on the things that needed to be done first, he also made sure that I had fun things planned and often sacrificed to help me do those things. He taught me that in order to be a hard worker all the time, you have to take breaks and make time for the things that you enjoy. Because of what he taught me I rarely procrastinate, I’m able to manage my time, my physical space is usually clean and organized, and most importantly I have fun and spend time with the people I love doing the things I enjoy.