Teaching a Little Girl About the Value of Time

Precious children come in all shapes and sizes. At this moment, the little girls, who just love and adore their working mothers, come to mind. These little girls deserve to be taught about the value of time – their own time with their mother.

Once upon a time in a not too distant galaxy, a little girl’s mother worked, because she had no husband and her class background dictated that she work to make ends meet. This is a bit of her story.

Carmen, the little girl, walked with Luisa, her mom, to her Nana’s house in the morning. They had no car, so they rode the bus down University Avenue, disembarked at Robinson street, walked across Robinson to Washington Street and raced across Washington Street to Nana’s house.

Luisa always rushed. “Hurry,we have to cross the street. I’m going to be late. Carmen, hold onto my skirt when we cross the street”, said Luisa, in her constantly inpatient tone, with her hands full of things she was carrying.

Carmen, 6, ┬áloved her mom, and with her short, chubby, little, brown, legs rushed as fast as she could to hold onto her mom while they crossed the busy street. She didn’t dare say, “Your going to fast. I can barely keep up with you.” Instead she learned that she had to go fast if she was going to have any attention from Carmen at all – even fast attention.

It wasn’t Luisa’s fault that life came too fast. She had Carmen to take care of, dad wasn’t in the picture and she had to work and be on time. Luisa was first generation American and knew that if she wanted anything for herself and her daughter, she had to work for it. Luisa’s parents, immigrants from Mexico, loved Carmen, but they were not going to provide any other resource to Luisa, beyond child care. That’s just the way it was then. This was before Head Start programs, family self sufficiency workers and only at the beginning of “assistance” from social workers. It was before the time that mom’s could say, no, I don’t think I want to be away from my child all day and rush her around when I see her. It was at the time that children of immigrants grew up with few resources, competing demands to survive and could not think about the consequences of passing this on to a little girl.

Is much different for immigrants and first generation girls now? In urban settings the day begins and ends with a bus ride, dropping daughters off at school, running errands by bus, waiting for the bus, creating schedules around the bus and this is, typically, in addition to a day at work. Many families, in fact, have more than one job, so time together with little girls and boys is precious and not at all relaxed.

What are three difference we can make for a child who needs to learn about the value of time? Who needs to understand that time is for them and not, always for being rushed?

1. Read a story to a child.

2. Give a child special time, a block of time just for her.

3. Tell that little child that you love her or him and that life will not always be this busy.