Say there is this person, newly arrived to the world, very short and ready to soak up information like a glass of grape juice overturned on a white comforter (that is, fast). This person’s first encounter with a spatula was nothing short of genius as they discovered all the capabilities and wonders that the spatula contained. Innately contained. The first time this person felt a gust of wind on their face, they gasped at the audacity of something they couldn’t see snatching at their breath. If this person occupies a house larger than say, a womb, and if they have access to the outdoors, there are probably enough first discoveries to last them several years of life. And yet, if you live with one of these short people, you may find yourself aghast one day to hear the words coming from down below, “mommy, I’m bored.”
I know I’m not old enough to begin a sentence with, “remember when we were kids…” But. Remember when we were kids and summers were all Lord of the Fliesesque? (Geez, I am old enough). You know, pass the conch and have a tribal council meeting in the clearing in the woods where you were pretty sure witches convened for seances and such. Maybe you had a kid government of sorts and handed out offices like President, Vice President, and Treasurer. You voted on things like who gets to wear Liz’s rust colored jeans next week. Perhaps you even paid dues that went towards refreshments for the staff meetings, or a birthday present for the cute lifeguard. Whatever, he had a nice physique.
Now here is where it gets personal. Are we modeling this space making, boredom inducing quiet for our kids? A Do As I Say, Not As I Do approach rarely works in parenting and this is no exception. It’s hard to remember what life was like without my iPad and cell phone. I imagine I was constantly wondering what my distant acquaintances were having for breakfast and if their dog was feeling better after having its toenail removed. I guess I was always rushing home to listen to my answering machine and feeling really out of the loop when I couldn’t call a friend during my 10 minute drive to class. End sarcasm. I’m actually not going to embark on an anti-technology diatribe, and that’s because I can quit whenever I want. My precious. Sorry, end sarcasm. My point is that it’s way too easy to fill up every space of my day with information or tasks, and it can be difficult to protect a part of the day for stillness and reflection.
The big paradox is that slowing down the clock takes as much effort and concentration as getting things done. In order to use time well we must work to protect it as assiduously as we guard our children’s health or promote their education.