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Yesterday is history, tomorrow a mystery. Today is a Gift… that’s why it’s called the present.

A non-refundable, no exchanges gift to do with what you can.

This basic sentiment has been quoted from everyone from Depak Chopra, Eleanor Roosevelt, and even Joan Rivers.

As a teen, I read that John Lennon quipped “Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans” and his words stuck with me. I remember thinking what an awful way to go through life, and swore that I would not let my life just happen around me. Of course, I get lost in the details way too often just as everyone else. We ignore all the bumper sticker clichés such as “Life is not a spectator sport”‘, “Slow down to smell the coffee”, “Dance as if no one’s looking”, and “Normal is just a setting on the washing machine” (…I just like that one).

I have been able to focus on my top priorities; I am proud to say I never let any excuse keep me from my son’s soccer games. Through countless games of city league, high school varsity, indoor league, premier league, and ODP (Olympic Development Program); I absorbed every minute. The other commitments or events I may have put aside to do so? Not even in my memory, and they are less and less important as time passes.

A practice we are striving to perfect is to live in the moment – take in what is actually happening, seeing the sun shine off the snow, the aroma of the coffee…the way the dog and cat nap in that patch of sunlight by the french doors. It took me years (and leaving the better paying corporate job) before I was able to grasp the benefit of “leave work at work”.

But children have a natural ability to understand this concept. The girls lose themselves and their dolls into very elaborate story lines that will go on for days. And the detail is amazing. I know which Barbie is allowed to drive the plastic pink jeep. (Apparently the other one is a “crazy driver”.  I’m sure I do not know where they picked that up!). They can tell me which American Girl doll wore what dress for each fictional occasion. For every tea party, an invitation is carefully printed out. Their commitment is unwavering. It’s not “I’m pretending to be a teacher” but “Hi, I’m Mrs. Sillypants, the new third grade teacher”.

When watching a movie, nothing pulls focus. Both girls know the proper use and meaning of the word “Inconceivable!” thanks to The Princess Bride. A freight train barreling through the family room would not distract Nola from singing along with Annie “maybe he reads, maybe she sews…..” or Holly from practicing the softshoe dance routines. They know how to squeeze every ounce out of every minute.

I could write pages on my son’s chess-like focus in a soccer match.

Observing kids at play leaves me with two questions. First, If we all begin with the ability to focus and simply “be”, how do we apply this ability to the real world? It doesn’t seem to translate. I see Holly struggling with basic subtraction concepts, but yet she can sing along to the entire Miley Cyrus playlist. (Yes, we’ve tried putting math to music.) As adults, we focus as necessary, but we fool ourselves by calling it “multi-tasking”. What this really means…..instead of giving one thing the full attention and passion it deserves, we spread ourselves thin and settle for “good enough”.

Second, does anyone know where the “pause” button is? When it is time for brushing teeth and settling down for the night, it can be nearly impossible to pull the girls back to Earth. I’ve tried “your doll looks tired, time for her pajamas” or reminding them there is such a thing as “Tomorrow… tomorrow…” but it always elicits the same response. Holly will bow her head in defeat, and quietly mope her way into the bedroom just before Nola’s vocal range goes up three octaves and she shrieks “WHAT?!?” at such a decibel it wakes the dog next door.

Fortunately the girls enjoy cuddling up in bed with their reading lights for abit of reading time at the end of the day. Usually once I can get in a word to remind them it’s reading time, I can get them moving in the right direction. It really is all quite comical, if we were a sit-com, the studio audience would burst with laughter. And I know it’s “just a phase”, but as Nailing Jello to a Tree so eloquently stated, “it makes me want to go Chuck Norris on their butt”.

Today is a(n) [exhausting] gift…

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