Monday, February 14, 2011


I recently learned of the term "placeholder" in web design. Basically it's something you put on your page to mark the spot where something else will go. Something you'll go back and put in later.

Which is the same thing parents do when they promise their children they will spend time together, and then don't deliver.

My children wanted to play a game we saw on PBS Kids. You take a bunch of small plastic toys, put them in bowls of water, put the bowls in the freezer and then check on them throughout the day to see how the water is changing into ice. It's a great game, and we all had fun when we played it yesterday. This morning my son popped out of bed and grabbed two of his toys to put in the bowls and play the game again. He was so excited.

So we set it up, just like yesterday, one for my daughter too, just like yesterday, I watched their smiles, just like yesterday, poked holes in the forming ice, just like yesterday... and then the day got away from me.

12pm: Can we check on the ice?
(After lunch, I say.)
1pm: Can we check on the ice?
(It's not ready yet.)
2pm: Can we check on the ice?
(I need to do laundry.)

Each time I replied to their request, I put in a placeholder in my mind. I will go back and do this with the kids when I'm done with, whatever. And sure enough, they went to bed tonight with the toys unchecked in the freezer.

Placeholders are harbingers of guilt. Because parents seldom go back and fill in what their kids really want. A little time together doing something fun. The best gift of all.

©, 2011-2012

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