Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Faster, faster... or not?
I don't rush my kids. This is a big thing that Charlotte has helped me with. This can be hard, because kids are inherently slow, and we do have places we need to be at certain times: school, a swimming class, an appointment. But I have learned, through the years, to allow enough time to be slow if we actually require arriving at a certain place by a particular time, and also to relax enough to not particularly care if I am a little bit late to things that are not that important.
It happens on lots of mornings when we are moving towards leaving the house, that I am prone to almost rushing the kids. Come on, get your coats on. Try to get your own shoes on. Please! In here. I try to stop. I try to just usher them playfully, to tickle their toes while I help them with their shoes. The two minutes this takes is not going to make or break anyone's day, except maybe the tone of mine.
Actually, I think the dawn of school in our life (this fall, 2 mornings a week) has really made me realize that this is who I have become. Before this year there never actually was anywhere we really had to be in the morning. We have always had the same succulent routine since Liam was born. We wake up, we laze around in bed for a while and read books, sometimes with coffee or hot chocolate and even something breakfasty to snack on, and then we meander downstairs in our jammies, eat some breakfast, putter and play, then get dressed. Maybe then we get on to our day. So this routine has been mightily compressed, but maintained for our nursery school mornings. Most of the time, we are there right on time. But some mornings, we aren't. And I could choose, quite easily, to skip the books in bed, or to dress the kids before coming downstairs. But how succulent is that routine? And how long will it last? Does it really matter if we are three or five minutes late to nursery school, arriving with the vast majority of the others, rather than before them? I think not.
This is all part of taking time to consider what is most important to me. What is important, and what will last. If the glass walls of my life should be shattered tomorrow, and I have learned that they can be crushed at any moment, what are the things I will be glad I did, and what are the things I will wish I hadn't done? I can tell you that the lazy mornings in bed will be cherished, while prompt arrivals will not be relished. I cringe to think the death of my child has caused me to make these positive choices for my family, but I also feel grateful to her for leading me to this peaceful place. If everyone could think, just once or twice a day, at a time when they are feeling frantic, or rushed, about which option would bring them more peace, then they might be happier.
This evening, after dropping Liam off at his swim class with Greg, I snuck in a little work out and left Aoife at the child care at our gym. Twenty minutes later, I was fetching her, and as I was signing her out, a woman with her three daughters was by the door. I opened the door, and held it for them. She was harried, a toddler on her hip, and she was urging the older girls in a most panicked tone to go on, come on, move through. I met her eyes, and smiled. I said, deliberately slowly, "I am not in a hurry. They can take their time." She answered me, in a hurried tone, a message of thanks. Then urged her children down the hall, quickly.
I set Aoife down, took her tiny, birdlike hand in mine, and we walked down the hall at her pace, talking quietly about what she had played with in the "playroom". Then we drove in our car, stopped at the wood-fired bread bakery, bought a crusty loaf of bread, and brought it home to eat with our kale and white bean stew. A little date for the ladies of our house. All but one. We played some hide and seek, took a splashy bath in the tub, and read 4 stories together. There were no worries.