Mornings in my house are the ultimate display of multi-tasking chaos. I think this is probably the case in most houses with multiple little kids that all have different reactions to the morning and whether or not they are happy to be awake. This morning was a little different, not just because it was a Saturday morning,.
But because I took a moment to pause.
My three-year old son woke up complaining that I had left him in the bed by himself and was clinging to my leg as I ran my endless to-do list of the day in my head. My internal monologue was simple: “I need to give him the tablet so he can get absorbed in his shows and I can get back to my long list.”
Sad, but true.
As I was finishing my rushed breakfast on the couch, he brought the tablet back in the living room, flipped to Netflix and selected his new favorite show: Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures. (Wasn’t that a video game when I was a kid?).
Internal monologue: “Great, that will keep him busy – now I can go back to my list.”
But my son was having none of that.
“I want you to sit with me when I watch my show.”
Plan B. “Do you want some breakfast?”
So I fixed him some cereal with the intention of leaving him with his grandmother at the kitchen table and going back to my ‘very important list’.
But then I paused and remembered an experience my pastor had with his mother that he credits for playing a big role in developing his self esteem: whenever his mother served him anything to eat, she would sit down with him (even if she was not eating) and spend time with him while he ate, giving him her full attention, until he was done.
I’m glad I made the right choice today and instead of Plan B, went to Plan C. I tossed my mental list out of my head and focused on this little marvel of a three-year old while he explained to me that a T-Rex does not eat other dinosaurs, even though he clearly asserted that it is a carnivore and ‘eats meat’.
I learned that a falcon can sweep down into the water and get a fish. That a Pteranodon is also a carnivore and it flies into the air so it can eat other Pteranodons.
I asked him if he knew what a herbivore was and with complete confidence he smiled and said: “Yes, it eats PLANTS’.
We made faces, giggled, talked about what kind of things would be fun to do on a rainy day – I don’t want to get wet and he thinks all you need is a coat and you can do anything on a rainy day – including playing in puddles.
All the time, he was shoving spoons of cereal into his mouth and grinning widely with pleasure each time he tasted it as if it was the best gourmet food in the world. He savored every fruit loop and acknowledged the brief moment with complete absorption.
I’m sure his internal monologue was: “This is the life!”
Our little breakfast moment was not more than 20 minutes and of inconsequential impact to whether or not I get things done today. But to him, it was an imprint that will last a lifetime – a moment that reconfirmed to him that …
… I am not just here.
I am present.
The two are very different.