It's strange because I've never gone skydiving. Yet that's what I imagined in order to stay focused while she read to me. Metaphorically falling fast through the air with literally no ability to think about anything else except the unrelenting presence of those seconds.
And it worked. At least the idea of it helped to narrow my flailing attention to a fine focal point mindful presence.
There's just been too much going on up in my noggin of late. Work, travel and seemingly a gazillion decisions to make and actions to take every day. And that's not even counting the other gazillion decisions and actions to make every day at home and helping to take care of each other and our children. That's not unusual for many people today raising a family and keeping a roof overhead, food on the table and squirreling some nuts away for always imminent rainy days. The Mama (what I lovingly call my wife) experiences it even more than I do, being the primary child-rearer as well as working, running a girl scout troop and now volunteering more. Something I'm doing more of now as well.
Of course not all of what we do are absolute necessities, but they are important activities nonetheless that give us personal joy, like the writing of these pieces for my blog, Get Off The Ground. They are critical to our personal learning and development, our passions and even our sanity. We are fortunate enough to be able to do these things while still squirreling those nuts away and praying for continual sunny days.
And every day the Mama works with our girls on reading and getting their homework done. Beatrice has more homework than Bryce being in 2nd grade, reading and math in particular, although Bryce has recommended work in her combined kindergarten/1st grade class.
The Mama does most of this work with the girls. It can be quite rewarding and very frustrating at the same time, since like most kids wanting to only play, doing homework is a painful distraction from just that. The girls could be playing with their toys, playing with our Guinea pigs, playing games on their iPads, drawing pictures, writing stories or watching a little television.
"Beatrice, it's time to read and do your reading log," says the Mama.
"No, I don't want to right now," replies Beatrice.
"The longer you take doing it means the longer it will take overall."
Homework happens both before school and after (there's a lot of homework for 2nd graders these days). Sometimes it all goes well, and sometimes the Mama gets frustrated with the girls. And with me too, because maybe I'm sitting there working or even writing like I'm doing this moment, when she could really use some more help than what I usually give in the homework department.
So I do more helping now. As it should be, helping my children learn and grow, because that isn't an optional requirement of parenting -- it's required parenting. Beatrice has also needed more focused investment due to the early delays she's had.
However, the other morning, when the Mama called down to me from upstairs to "please help Beatrice with her reading," my head was a flutter with a gazillion butterfly effects and other things to do. Beatrice sat next to me and started reading out loud Miss Brown Is Upside Down! and I didn't her a word she said for the first minute.
I'm the one who preaches about mindful presence and being in the moment and focusing on the things that matter in the immediacy -- and yet it's a continuous struggle when there are a gazillion things to be done, which there always will be. This time, for whatever reason, the image of me jumping out of a plane and into the open air, literally jumped out of a plane and into the open air.
I jumped and still remained tethered to the mothership of my frontal lobes. Nothing else mattered except me falling over 100 miles per hour, my cheeks pulled back and flapping in the rushing wind, while Beatrice read next to me. Within seconds everything went silent around me as I fell, except for Bea. All I could focus on was her forming and speaking each word, her cadence and her periodic query about how to say a word that wasn't familiar. She finished her 15 minutes of reading and then had to pick one of the exercises in her reading log to complete. I read the choices and she picked the one where she had to identify 10 action words from the book and write them down.
Afterwards, I pulled the cord, my parachute opened and yanked me up and away from Beatrice, and then I floated gently back down into the cacophony of a gazillion decisions to make and actions to take.
|Beatrice's depiction of Daddy's metaphor|