I heard a comment recently along the lines of “sometimes we focus too much on results.” It was a different take on the old expression of destination vs. journey, however, it touched home as I broke some parenting rules recently, and I would do it again.
As some background, about ten years ago my sons told me they wanted to learn how to hunt. This was rather surprising to me, but I decided to embrace it. The first step was I needed to learn how to hunt. Fortunately, I have a few friends who helped me and I also took the necessary safety and education classes. Then it was time for the boys to go through the same safety and education classes and some extra training too. Fast forward all these years, my younger son still enjoys hunting but my older one has no patience for it.
Last week I took an entire week off and went to the woods to chase Bambi. I’ll tell you about my results later, but sadly there was no Taco Bell involved. I also pulled my younger son out of school for the same time period and this is where I broke some unwritten rules.
The timing was not the best as he had the PSAT test this past week and it was also the end of the quarter. To get ahead he took all his finals the Friday before we left. Nothing like 6 exams in one day! Now, depending on your perspective, taking the PSAT is the MOST important thing a student can do their junior year. And, to make him miss regularly scheduled finals is completely frowned upon. Personally, we think those are the wrong results to focus on.
To give some perspective, my parents took us on a family two-week vacation right before my 5th grade year. I missed the first week of school due to the timing. I’m sure a teacher or two wasn’t happy about it, but looking back it was one of the best things my parents did. Why? Well, my dad died suddenly that fall. I’ll trade missing a week of school for the memories of swimming at the beach, eating lobster and clams, climbing rocks along the ocean, hiking through the pines, climbing a WWII lookout tower, and just generally spending time with those most important to me.
Circling back to Taco Bell, it has become our unofficial tradition that if I get a deer we stop at Taco Bell on the drive home. Sadly, no Taco Bell this year as I had no luck, at least with the results of getting a deer. However, I spent an entire week with my younger son in the middle of nowhere. We enjoyed the time in the woods, hanging out in the cabin, talking about life, reading books, and just appreciating the time together. Yeah, he missed an opportunity for a PSAT-related scholarship and his finals’ results probably aren’t going to be stellar, but I don’t think either of us would change our decisions.
We both know he will have to focus a bit harder the rest of the year, but with the worry of SAT and ACT tests, college visits, and life-altering decisions on his immediate horizon, sometimes it’s worth venturing off the expected path and shifting your focus on the journey instead of the results. Because too often it feels like expected obligations are never ending while time is limited.