Once after a fun afternoon at the park with my grandson, I realized it was getting late and suggested we head for home.

“Not yet, Bobby” (the name he’s called me since he was an infant) “it’s not even dark and we should keep playing as long as we can.” As usual when it comes to my grandson, I gave in. Kids, after all, really want our time even more than those extravagant gifts found even in the best toy stores.

It reminded me of a story an old friend sent me about a woman sitting on a bench next to a middle-aged man at a playground.

“That’s my son over there,” the friendly woman said as she pointed to a young boy in a bright red sweater gliding down the high slide.

“He’s a fine-looking lad,” the man next to her replied respectfully. “That’s my son over there in the light blue jacket,” he added as he pointed toward the swings.

As time passed, the gentleman peeked at his watch and called over to his son, “What do you say we call it a day, Todd?”

But Todd quickly pleaded, “Just five more minutes, Dad. Please. Please — just five more minutes.”

Without hesitating, the father simply smiled and said, “Ok, Ok.”

“My, you certainly are a patient father,” the woman seated next to him observed.

With a sober sounding voice, the man replied, “You know my oldest son, Tommy, was killed by a drunk driver last year while riding his bike not too far from here and I really never spent much time with him but now I would give anything for just five more minutes with him.

“Since then I have vowed not to make that mistake when it comes to Todd. He thinks he has five more minutes to swing, but the truth is I actually have five more minutes to watch him play,” the man concluded as his eyes began to moisten.

It’s my belief that when it comes to kids it seems like a mere nano-second to go from, “Daddy, will you please play with me?” to “Hey, Dad, I have a date. Can I borrow the car?”

Now as the school year has come to an end and it’s early in the summer, there’s never been a more perfect time to take advantage of our long, sunny Texas days to spend what is known as “quality time” with your kids.

Despite your probable never-ending work load, you must find the time to make this summer a meaningful and memorable one for you and your children. And it doesn’t have to mean an expensive trip to Disney World to make it special.

Going on a “wilderness walk” around your neighborhood or bicycling together through the park might be just the thing. How about making homemade ice cream together or even considering a backyard camp out with tents and s'mores?

You might want to consider an outdoor “wash day” where everything from cars to lawn chairs to the sidewalk get cleaned. Just be certain everyone gets wetter than the things you’re washing.

No matter what, don’t allow the summer to come and go and your children to get another season older without taking advantage of every opportunity to be with your kids as together you laugh and share and play. And never be afraid to give in to “just five more minutes.”

Mike Fitsko is a retired principal and longtime columnist from New Braunfels.

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