Quality time is a term that people threw around a bunch when my kids were little. There are 24 hours in every day for everyone and they get filled without effort until the overflow fills up the next day and the next and the next. Soon weeks, months, years have passed and we don’t know what happened to them.
I got to see our dogs every day. I fed them, watered them, cleaned up after them, and talked to them, all of which is fine, but not really fun and not individual to each bulldog. So after a few months, I instituted Doggy Study Hall, a separate playtime for each dog. Yes, it takes time (about 30 minutes each) and it takes energy (mine mostly, as their internal generators seldom slow down).
I take each bulldog by herself down our quiet hallway. I light a scented candle high above their reach and sometimes I set up a speaker and play instrumental music. I sit down on a large beanbag chair that each bulldog has tried to claim with only limited success. A large cushion is available for their use, but what the human has is so much more appealing.
Doggy Study Hall rules are simple:
- No stepping, standing, or walking on the human. (Snoopey routinely violates this rule. She still thinks that she is a lap dog.)
- No invading any room into which you have not been invited.
- No intrusion into the front room at all. There is nothing in there for dogs and it is not a public doggy restroom (though Tiger and Wiggles have tried to turn it into one.)
- Dogs may choose their activities– soft toy play, fetch, chew toys, lounging, cuddling with the human, or napping.
- Stepping, standing, or walking on the human after 3 warnings may cause expulsion from Doggy Study Hall for that day.
- And no chewing, tearing, or eating of any books (even if they look delicious).
At first I thought the dogs had some fun there, relaxed some by being away from the others, and maybe learned to tolerate me a little more. No big deal. As time went on, the excitement level revealed that they had come to expect it. They would run, prance, and dance at the hall door at that time of day. Each one had a favorite activity. Snoopey loved to cuddle and nap. Wiggles loved to play with a big, blue, rubbery chew stick. Tiger cuddled and lay on the cushion, fiddling with the soft toys every so often. Stella loved to be petted and massaged behind her shoulders.
I forget how much special time set aside means to my friends, to my family, and to the LORD. It is actually harder to set up quality time with the people in my life than it is to spend time with the Lord of the Universe. He is always awake. He is almighty. His invitation always stands.
“And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.” (Mark 1:35 KJV) If Jesus knew the importance of time apart with the Father, how much more should I realize the importance of quality time with Him?
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