Last Sunday evening, I was getting myself organized for the week. Planning it out, where I needed to go, what I needed to do.

My son said, “Do you have any days free this week?”

“Buddy, probably not,” I told him. “It is pretty full. Why? What do you need?” I won’t lie. I was kind of dreading the answer.

“I just wanted to hang out with you,” he said.

I keep my life pretty full. Between work, CrossFit training and coaching, self-defense classes, combatives classes etc. – my time gets pretty thin. I try to plan time specifically with the family and kids, but I know I am not always successful.


A few years back, my then seven-year-old daughter had a present for me. She asked me to sit at the table while she ran to her room and got it. I was in a hurry but I sat, she seemed pretty excited.

She returned with a small glossy black cardboard box. She had cut small strips of white paper, decorated them with crayons and attached them to the box like ribbons.

“Open it,” she said and she squeezed onto my lap.

Inside, there was a cork, a hair barrette, a penny, five washers, a bolt, a Q-Tip, a Lincoln Log, a red cloth bag and several bottle caps. I looked at her to see if she was laughing, as though it was a joke. Instead she smiled earnestly.

“I just thought you might need these things,” she explained. “You know, when you have ‘stuff’ to do.”

She pulled out the plastic hair barrette. “Like this, you could make a ring for mom.” She put it on her finger. “She might like that.”

The way she said need stuck out to me.

See, I spend a lot of time justifying why I do all the things I do. When I am working, I can say I am supporting the family. I need to work. I need to exercise. I need some time by myself. I need adventure. I need time with my wife. I need time with my friends. The kids need help. My wife has projects she needs me to do.

The things I “need” to do are endless.

The hours in my day, my year and my life are not.


Later that night, after the conversation with my son, I was at my desk, and it reminded me of that box. It is still in my nightstand so I pulled it out.

As I sat there updating my calendar with things I “needed” to do, I thought about that boxes of things she said I might need.

All I really “need” are moments that my children are sitting on my lap with gifts for me or my teenage son is asking to “hang out.”

He and I made plans this week.

I’ll have to thank my daughter for giving me some of the tools to do the “stuff” I need to and a great reminder for the life I want to have.

Who would have thought that with a few bottle caps, some washers and a cork I could start to build the life I really want. I guess it took the wisdom of a seven-year-old to teach me what I really need.