Do you sometimes worry that life is a constant rush; do you wish you could stop the clock?
I force my rushing on my children. I’m forcing each day to finish a little quicker for them and without realising; I’m hurrying them out of their innocence and childhood and into the kind of life that I live. As an adult, I’m not sure that this is the life you’d rush towards.
Rushing has become part of family culture. But once you’ve started, how do you stop and how do you slow the pace down?
“Young boys should never be sent to bed, they always wake up a day older” - Peter Pan, J.M Barrie.
My youngest son is eight and is an entomologist in the making, or a paleontologist or a policeman. He hasn’t decided yet. At any given opportunity he is down on his haunches with a stick for poking, and a pile of leaves or soil for investigating. This is his happy place and his quiet place. I try and respect his need to just “be”, but it’s only a matter of time before he gets a “come on Buddy, gotta go”, and the stick is discarded as is his happy place, as his rushing mother rushes him away to the next place she needs to rush him to.
I also have a 14 year old son. He’s already started to leave us. He doesn’t kiss us like he used to, he chats with his friends on Skype and Instagram, and he closes his bedroom door behind him. We know that we’re losing him. It’s a terrifying thought, you think you’ll have the essence of their childhood around you forever; they still seem so young, you remember them as babies so clearly.
Emotionally, the time is limited before they stop wanting and needing us. We just need to keep a door permanently open for our children to come back to us.
I’m lucky that we’re onto this early; we’ve still got time to undo our mistakes. I want to not burden my children with problems or deadlines or “get in the car quick!” demands. I want to protect their joyousness. I want to show them that it’s ok to keep ladybugs in a jar beside their bed. I don’t want to gruff on about homework and “get off the electronics” and “can someone please help me”. I don’t want to sigh when someone takes too long to put his shoes on.
Life when you’re young is not about serious stuff, it’s not about time, and it’s not about deadlines.
Life is about adventures and exploring and enjoying what you’re doing. There is little thought of yesterday, barely a flicker of a thought about tomorrow, it’s all about now and for being in the now. It intrigues me how my youngest wakes up each day and asks, “is it a school day?” and that my eldest is surprised when I say we have to leave in 7 minutes.
Children don’t look at the time or diaries, their lives aren’t dictated to by time or dates like ours are.
The discipline as parents is for us to recognise this and to sign up to change. To say to ourselves, just let them be. And acknowledge that the stuff that doesn’t have to be done is actually more important than the stuff that does.
We do need to provide boundaries and teach our children about being responsible, and following through, and sticking to the rules. But we also need to teach them to be irresponsible, to break the rules, to be silly, to be happy, to just be. And to not worry about time or the other shackles of a responsible life.
I need to see my children’s lives through their eyes rather than mine. I want every day to be a little slower and experienced a little more completely, so that each day of their childhood is magical and lasts as long as possible.
Maybe there’s something in this life lesson for all of us. Because it’s not just children who wake up a day older.
Do you feel like you are always rushing? Have you thought about how you could slow down? Any ideas? Please share in comments.