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Quality Time · 25 October 1998

“Quality Time.” Whoever thought up that concept probably did not have any kids. I have come to this conclusion after spending the last three years with my seven-year old son, Zachary, and the past three months with my newborn son, Peter. The two of them, especially Peter, have no concept of what quality time is. Zachary is just figuring out what time itself is and Peter is just taking in everything. And regardless of what my kids think of time, I am sure that I do not know beforehand what will and what will not be “quality time.”


The person who thought up the idea of quality time had the right idea in the abstract but nobody has the key to determining what time will be quality and what time will just be. Like beauty, quality is in the eye of the beholder. Or as the saying goes, “I’ll know quality when I see it.” People know quality time when they remember it. Personally, I am glad that I do not have a magic switch that turns time into quality time. I am glad that I can not just schedule my kids’ precious memories into my day. That I need to spend lots of time with my kids just to get a few precious memories.


It is interesting to find out what times our seven-year old thinks are special. He remembers the summer we three got married (I met my wife, Lisa, and her son, Zachary, when he was about 4 years old) and the trip we took to Mount Baker. He remembers the mountain that turned out to be clouds and the sand alligator we made which had eaten part of a man’s arm. We like to make cookies together and I think he will remember baking as our special time. He will also probably remember the trip that we took this summer to a family reunion — being in the car, Yellowstone Park, swimming, meeting and playing with people at the reunion and of course, his brother throwing up in the Safari Room in Wyoming. He will also probably remember all of the animal skins and stuffed animals at the throw-up place. But only he will decide which of the times and events qualify as quality and which do not. I am just glad that we have been able to provide the quantity.


So far with our new baby, every moment together has been special for me. I remember the first time that I ever held a baby was when I held Peter in my arms just after he was born. I was so afraid that I would break him, that I had to sit down and have my wife, Lisa, place him gently in my arms. I know that Peter will not remember the times that we have spent together so far. Or at least not the details. But I do know that because of my experiences with Zachary, I must spend lots of time with both of my kids. Our family will share memories with each other because we spend so much time together. Peter will not remember the walks that we have taken or the trip this summer or even the nine months before we ever got to see him. But I will tell him of when I first held him and his brother spoke from somewhere across the room. Peter tried to find the source of the voice that he had heard almost daily from inside the womb. And it was pure love when their eyes finally met. It is a moment etched forever in my heart and soul and it will be a moment relayed to Peter when he is older. And there will be lots more that he will remember on his own.


I do not know how much quality time I have spent with my wife and children but some day I will. Whether my family remembers a favorite movie that we have seen together or a trip we have taken or just the time we have sat around the dinner table, I hope they all decide that I have given them enough time to get some quality.

© 1998 Michael T. Miyoshi

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Published 25 October 1998 in The Seattle TimesEssay

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