11:56 am PST

I have only one child who is just on the threshold of becoming 9 years of age. He is slowly growing up yet he is still at a tender age.

Because my wife works late hours and I do not, I am usually responsible for accompanying my son in the evening, whether it be helping with his homework or playing with him.

Many times he would study by himself and I would be happy to do some reading myself, or to become busy with some other things. But everyday there would be a time when he would come to me and say: “Daddy, play with me.” At this point, if I have nothing to do, or there is no particular book I need to read, I’ll play with him. Sometimes we play with toys, play games, read books, or watch some videos, but I also use these opportunities to talk to him about school, how to deal with things in life, and how to interact with people.

However, sometimes I have a lot of housework, or there is something I need to deal with from work, or I get too tired and want to rest. I would then refuse his request, or ask him to play by himself first and see if I could join him later.

One day, I was busy doing chores upstairs. My son wanted me to play with him again, and I had told him to play by himself for a while, and I’ll see if I could join him later. As I was cleaning some things in the room, I found a small toy he used to love playing with when he was about two years old. It somehow ended up in a pile of junk and stayed there ever since.

When I picked up the toy, I couldn’t help but remember his adorable appearance back then. Suddenly, I had a shocking realization. It has been seven years since he played with that toy. I then thought back to a friend who recently posted some of her son’s elementary school pictures up on Facebook, because her son is now grown up and left home to high school. She misses him dearly and attempts to alleviate her longing by looking at pictures of him.

I didn’t know how many days passed during those few years when I never had time to accompany him and only reminded him to take his bath, wash his face, brush his teeth and go to bed. I could not make up the lost time. When the time comes, my son will grow up and leave home, and even when I imagine playing with him, he is not here. And when I really think about it, I could postpone housework and other matters to later that night, or push it back another day so I could play with him. Each day I don’t spend time with my son means losing the chance of building our relationship and teaching him about life.

I remember an advertisement in front of a coffee shop that said: “No matter how busy I am, I need to have a cup of coffee with you.” I said to myself : “Son,  no matter how busy dad is today, he still needs to play with you!” I stopped my work and went downstairs. My son was still engrossed with playing with his blocks. I walked over, picked up his toy blocks and said to him: “Dad will play with you now.”

When he looked at me as if he had just won the lottery, I knew that I had made the right choice .

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