I am patient. But there are times when we’re trying to get out the door in the morning and The Child is walking down the steps and stops to tell me something, takes another step, stops to tell me something, that I’m one big ball of frustration and irritation. “Come on, come on, come on! Let’s go!”
There are times when he gets out of the car and spies a bird or a squirrel overhead and stops to look, rather than efficiently getting his backpack from the car and going inside. I have to choke back a “Oh my gosh! Can you not walk and talk at the same time??” I’m not proud to say that I’m thinking it even if I do manage to restrain myself from saying it out loud.
I try to make a quarter turn; how wonderful is it that he is so caught up in what he’s telling me that he wants to focus on it. How wonderful that he is so taken with a squirrel dashing from tree limb to tree limb that he stops to take it in.
How wonderful that he is really seeing, really taking it all in, and really being there. That’s one of those unique skills children have.
I’m not a fan of multi-tasking. Down with multi-tasking, I say. I don’t necessarily think there’s a lot to be gained by being so allfire busy all the time.
Or not for me. When I try to do two things at once, even talking on the phone while unloading the dishwasher, I don’t do either thing well. How hard is it to unload the dishwasher? I know, but when I’m getting out plates and flatware while talking to my mother on the phone, I am not all there. I either lose my place in the conversation or set the mixing bowls near where the measuring cups go and put the soup spoons in the wrong slot in the flatware drawer. (Neither of which are crises but they’re so simple! That’s how distractable I am.)
I need, or maybe I just prefer, to give all my attention to whatever it is I’m doing. It’s more peaceful. Trying to do two, not to even mention three, things at once makes me feel disjointed and all herky-jerky. Slowing down and taking care of one task works so much better for me.
I read not long ago where a time management specialist encouraged women to return emails while they were in line at the grocery store and I thought, no, no, no! Let’s don’t do that. Like people need any more “help” in little nudges to be more productive.
My idea of a disaster is being somewhere with down time and no book. I take a book and a notebook with me pretty much everywhere. But I find that lots of times, even in the dentist’s waiting room, the book tends to sit untouched. It’s nice to slow down and just…be. Sit and think. I wonder about the other people in the waiting room. What are their stories? They have them. Everyone has them.
If instead of wondering I checked email or made a grocery list or even read a novel, that wouldn’t be a bad use of my time. But I would have missed out on reflection and a daydream or two. There isn’t enough time to think and just be. We need time to stare off into space, to wonder, to daydream, to wish, to reflect.
The older we get, the more staying busy and efficient seems to come naturally, more’s the pity. We may have to train ourselves to slow down and look around and see.
I try to remind myself of that each time The Child seems lost in thought, each time he pauses in tying his shoe to answer a question, each time he gets distracted between going outside and putting his bike up and coming back in. Sometimes meandering is the best part.