I’ve always had somewhat of a fluid relationship with rules, ideologies or general life credos; they change for me as often as I change addresses, which is to say, frequently, because I have a vagabond-like lack of attachment to place. But I do have a few guiding philosophies that have stuck with me through the better part of adulthood: 1) Sharing is for suckers (much to the chagrin of most everyone who knows me, especially my husband, and yes, I know this makes me a terrible person); 2) Beware of anyone who doesn’t curse or drink (recovering substance
abusers and clergy exempted); and 3) There are very few things that I want to do for more than two consecutive hours (exemptions being sleep, pool/ocean-related activities, family time and sitting on my fanny whilst blankly staring into space). Fortunately, life philosophies 1 and 2 haven’t been passed on to my offspring; Hailey is great at sharing and she doesn’t pick her friends based on their binge drinking habits or ability to pepper their conversations with the F bomb. Hailey also didn’t adopt my life philosophy #3, as most everything she does takes more than two hours, such as:
- Reading. Children’s books are 30 pages at most, half of which are illustrations, and the other half of which contain words written in a 72-point font. This tricks you into believing that you can zip through one of these books lickety split. This is also your hope when you are dead tired at the end of the day and praying your child will drift off after a quick read. This never happens. Hailey usually gets two books before bedtime, almost all of which we’ve read at least 47 times before. Nonetheless, the turn of each page elicits several new questions with every single read. A simple page containing a black and white illustration of a lone cow prompts at least three questions: “Who is that cow’s mother?” “What is he thinking” “What does he eat?” Sixty pages of this and reading time has gone on long enough that it has put the reader to sleep.
- Eating. One of Hailey’s dinners last week clocked in at an hour and forty five minutes. Once we factored in dessert and taking her vitamin, she had been sitting at the dinner table for two hours. You might ask yourself if I made her a delicious four-course meal. I did not. She nursed about five bites of chicken, some carrots, apple sauce and milk that entire time. The girl’s digestive system must LOVE her.
- Going anywhere. Previous generations would have called my daughter a “slow poke.” She is in no hurry to get anywhere. I have to give us a half hour head start to get in the car to go some place, because I know that from Hailey’s bedroom to the car, she will stop at least 15 times to look at something, pick something up, smell something, scratch something, or any number of other things. We easily spend a combined total of two hours getting ourselves into and out of the car on any given day.
I used to chant, “let’s go, let’s go, let’s go” every time my little slow poke poked along. But one day we were driving in my car, hurrying along on our way to get somewhere we were late to that I thought was important but surely was not, and Hailey looked out the window toward the San Gabriel Mountains and said, “Mommy, aren’t the mountains beautiful tonight?” Touched by her ability to appreciate such a small but beautiful thing, I pulled the car over. We just sat there quietly looking at the mountains, and I thought about my little slow poke, who, unlike her mommy, likes to do things for long stretches of time. She stops and smells the roses; she likes to observe. She pays attention. And why shouldn’t she? What’s the hurry anyway? I’m so grateful to my slow poke for that lovely moment and for teaching me the lesson of slowing down. Don’t get me wrong, we didn’t sit there for more than two hours. I mean, I can change, but miracles aren’t going to happen overnight.