Parent Pathways

Parent Pathways: Slowing down time, just a little

January 20, 2014 

I was working at home on a recent Saturday when I had to take a break to film my son cracking an egg over his head.

He’d reached 20 followers on Instagram, which he’d just joined, and this is what he’d promised his “people.”

I’m not ready for this.

What happened to the Velcro shoes and Batman capes? Darth Vader? Blanket forts and crickets in pockets?

I want all those things back. He’s just 10 and in the fifth grade. I want more time before the world gets to him.

But there’s no stopping time. If only someone could figure out how to do it – stop time at the really good parts in life and speed it up when you hit a rough patch.

Forget the iPhone; what an invention that would be.

Come to think of it, though, my son is right on time. I remember being about the same age when something both horrible and wonderful started dawning on me: the world.

Or worldliness. Other people’s opinions. Popular kids. Slam books. Boys. The right shoes. Feathered hair.

I remember being excited because suddenly I had my own “happenings,” but also lost and scared that being myself wasn’t going to cut it. It consumed me for a lot of years.

The world steals us for a while and then, eventually, we make it back to who we are.

Hopefully.

Writer Catherine Drinker Bowen said it this way: “Many a man who has known himself at 10 forgets himself utterly between 10 and 30.”

I know, I’m waxing nostalgic now. Most times I don’t notice the passage of time, but then it sneaks up on me. And when it does, it’s impossible not to contemplate what’s happened and what’s to come.

One thing I do love about my son getting a little older and more mature is that we have some pretty good talks. Over lunch, I was telling him about my new class of students at UNC-Chapel Hill and he said, “You’re too soft, Mom.”

And I said, “How do you know that?”

“I can just tell by the way you talk about them. You have to be firm.”

My mom remarked the other day that she’s learned the best things of her life from her children. I hadn’t thought about that before. But I can see it happening.

One of my students, just 10 years older than my son, interviewed me in a class exercise and asked me about my hobbies. I mentioned I was taking yoga.

She responded with a story about how her sister had borrowed her backpack for a camping trip and returned it completely empty and how freeing it was to start fresh and just load her pack with what she needed – laptop, keys, water bottle.

I thought she’d gone off on a tangent, but she continued.

“That’s like yoga,” she said. “You empty your brain while you’re there and then re-load it only with what you need.”

That’s a pretty good analogy from a 20-year-old.

How many egg-cracking shenanigans and other stunts will I be privy to before I get access to that kind of wisdom? My guess is a lot.

It’s OK; I don’t mind the wait.

cwgala@gmail.com

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