This dad of three reminds us what life is really about.
Lots of parents are shouting — perhaps inwardly — “yippee” as they bundle their kids off to school after the long summer vacation. It’s pretty understandable after a few long months of entertaining them, keeping them off their screens, and stopping the seemingly endless bickering between siblings. Yet, can I stop you mid-celebration? What if the very worst happened and you lost your child, or children? You’d want to claw back every single second with them, even the annoying moments — as one grieving dad, Richard Pringle from England, reminds us in a heartbreaking Facebook post.
When Pringle’s three-year-old son, Hughie, died last summer from an unexpected brain hemorrhage, the devastated father wrote a list that really puts parenting into perspective: “The 10 Most Important Things I’ve Learnt Since Losing My Son.” The list gives moms and dads the golden guidelines to parenting that highlights what kids really need from their parents, and in return what we need from our kids. Pringle’s advice doesn’t cost a thing, it’s simple, and more importantly, it’s full of love.
The 10 most important things I’ve learned since losing my son
1. You can never ever kiss and love too much.
2. You always have time. Stop what you’re doing and play, even if it’s just for minute. Nothing’s that important that it can’t wait.
3. Take as many photos and record as many videos as humanly possible. One day that might be all you have.
4. Don’t spend money, spend time. You think what you spend matters? It doesn’t. What you do matters. Jump in puddles, go for walks. Swim in the sea, build a camp and have fun. That’s all they want. I can’t remember what we bought Hughie; I can only remember what we did.
5. Sing. Sing songs together. My happiest memories are of Hughie sitting on my shoulders or sitting next to me in the car singing our favorite songs. Memories are created in music.
6. Cherish the simplest of things. Night times, bedtimes, reading stories. Dinners together. Lazy Sundays. Cherish the simplest of times. They are what I miss the most. Don’t let those special times pass you by unnoticed.
7. Always kiss those you love goodbye and if you forget, go back and kiss them. You never know if it’s the last time you’ll get the chance.
8. Make boring things fun. Shopping trips, car journeys, walking to the shops. Be silly, tell jokes, laugh, smile and enjoy yourselves. They’re only chores if you treat them like that. Life is too short not to have fun.
9. Keep a journal. Write down everything your little ones do that lights up your world. The funny things they say, the cute things they do. We only started doing this after we lost Hughie. We wanted to remember everything. Now we do it for Hettie and we will for Hennie too. You’ll have these memories written down forever and when you’re older you can look back and cherish every moment.
10. If you have your children with you. To kiss goodnight. To have breakfast with. To walk to school. To take to university. To watch get married. You are blessed. Never ever forget that.
Although his son had been diagnosed with a brain condition, as Pringle explains: “There was only a 5 percent chance of a bleed but unfortunately that 5 percent chance happened last year and he didn’t survive.” The father of three also shared how “in three short years he left us with a lifetime of the most incredible memories.” Through experiencing such a tragedy, Pringle wants to remind parents what a privilege it is to be a parent; a role we should never take for granted.
Yet, this list is so much more than just a reminder to parents to cherish their kids in case the worst happens: it’s a reminder that kids grow up in a flash — although it may not always seem like it when we’re in the midst of tantrums and bedlam. We need to appreciate the experience of parenting and never forget how blessed we truly are. Now I’m off to print out the list and stick it on my fridge. And if by chance my own little angels start misbehaving I’ll look at the list and embrace the fact they’re still around to misbehave.