“Are you full yet?” No response. Time passes.
“Are you ready to go?” “Nooooooo!” More time passes.
“Please finish up. It’s time to go.” The toddler adamantly shakes his head.
“Two more minutes, okay?” Still more time passes.
Both the child and the table have become disaster zones. There are noodles in his hair, on his face, and on clothes; all over the table, on the bench, on the floor.
A box of handiwipes sits on the table – waiting.
This happy little boy is clearly having a wonderful eating experience. I imagine it might be his first time eating all by himself in public. I seriously doubt that he is still hungry. I’m guessing it’s more likely that he is lingering to prolong the fun.
His father had finished eating long, long ago. Yet he seems to have infinite patience with his son. He truly appears to have both an intuitive as well as a pragmatic understanding of the difference between time and timing.
The father continues to ask questions and suggest that it is time to leave. But he does not make a move or force the timing. Rather, he waits until his son shows his readiness by putting up his hands to have them cleaned with the waiting handiwipes. Then the two of them gather their things and are on their way. The dinner debris remains.
“Where are we going now, Daddy?”
In just the last 17 days the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases went from 4 million to 5 million. Though I’m not immune to the virus, I notice that I’m becoming immune to the numbers where larger increases are happening in shorter periods of time.
In the US, we’re on an exponential growth curve. With that in mind and with schools opening, I support any and all parents who choose to keep their kids home at this time. I know – from experience as a single parent – that it will be inconvenient and frustrating at times. And I hear reports about how we are jeopardizing our children’s education if they are not in the physical classroom. I disagree. In fact, just this morning I read a CNN Health report about how there has been a 90% increase of Covid cases in US children in the last four weeks.
It’s about the difference between time and timing – and patience. First, learning at a distance is not forever and it can be made to be very effective. Even if the kids are out of school for a semester, or even a year, we are invested in them and their education for the long haul. Why risk in the short term during a pandemic? Secondly, the stakes for our impatience – our next generation’s health and the health of those around them – are really high. I know many kids want to go back to school. I know many people cannot work from home. It’s a dilemma! However, as those who have been gifted and blessed with the opportunity to serve and steward them (parents, teachers, politicians…), I believe it’s our obligation to find ways through the dilemma that protects them – especially during this time. After all, part of our stewardship is to make sound, long-term decisions on their behalf.
When Michael was about 10 he wanted to dye his hair blue. Oh, my! What do I do with that? At first, I said, “No way!” In my further deliberations, however, I learned a valuable lesson about how to make wise decisions for him as his parent: Does the situation present any risk to his health and safety? If so, the answer is no. If not, then why not let him do it? I came to see that I often said no before thinking through whether my response contained health and safety risks for him or was perhaps just more convenient for me.
We are currently in the opposite situation where many are saying yes to the classroom in spite of a high potential for long-term health risks both for them and for others. Is this decision perhaps about what’s more convenient for adults or is it about protecting the health and safety of our children? I don’t like presenting the question in a binary way but, there we are! This is a significant time for reflection on that question. (Obviously, all of this is contingent of local circumstances. For example, at this time, the risks are low for some rural Minnesota schools but high for some urban schools. I’m pleased to know that both Minneapolis and St. Paul schools will begin with distance learning.)
I leave you with this thought: In Native American teachings there is The Two Sacred Laws of The Children’s Fire. No matter what the deliberations or considerations when making a decision, the final outcome must meet these two criteria: It is respectful and honoring of birth, life, and growth. It will not harm the children – both born and yet to be born.
Photo by Barbara
The first wildflower of spring after a long winter