John F. Russell: List should start with a hug |

John F. Russell: List should start with a hug

On one of the worst days of his life, a good friend gave me the best advice.

“Hug your kids,” he told me.

Sounds simple, but so often in life we forget that it’s the little things that make every day special. That’s why every parent needs a list to remind us of the truly important things.

Things like tossing a ball around the yard or sharing the pages of a good book on the couch. Things like playing video, card or board games on a Sunday afternoon.

The list should guide us to long hikes in the woods or offer directions to the kitchen table for a once-in-a-lifetime story.

The list would advise us to go to a movie, complete with a bucket of butter-covered popcorn and a box of Junior Mints.

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It would also urge us to go for a bike ride or to meet our children on that trampoline in the backyard for a game of “crack the egg.”

Of course it would include a trip to the park for a swing, a weekend fishing trip or an evening skipping rocks on a mountain lake.

Further down the list there would be reminders to shoot some hoops, play a game of tennis or simply to sit back in the grass and watch the sun crawl across the sky before it drops behind the Sleeping Giant to hide under a blanket of pink clouds.

The list might tell us to drop a few loose coins in the arcade at the Tap House or to pull out the wallet and drop a few bucks – after all, it’s only money.

The list might lead us to the bowling alley to knock down a few pins or encourage us to strike up a conversation with our children. It could be about a football game featuring Elway, a baseball game showcasing the arm of Nolan Ryan or a day of school featuring Miss Lang or Miss Hogue.

The winter list would include sledding, skiing and the basics of making a snowman. It would prompt every parent to have a snowball fight or simply run around in waist-deep snow.

When you’re done with the snow, the list would entice us with a cup of hot chocolate and a lasting memory with our children.

Of course the list would remind us to tuck our kids into bed at night and to never let a day go by without a hug – or two.

It’s funny how hugs somehow get lost. They seem to slip between the cushions in our Suburbans as we shuffle our kids from their after-school program to tennis practice. They take a back seat as we rush to work in the morning for a meeting. They have to wait for us to get off work in the afternoon.

Life is busy, but childhood is fleeting. Too often, we put off the little things until it’s too late.

A little more than a week ago, my buddy drove to Denver to visit his son, but when he arrived, he found him unconscious. He tried to resuscitate him but could not. The son was just 30 years old.

So this week, I started making that list.

It’s not surprising that it starts with a hug.