“Daddy, I’m hungry.”
My youngest and I were shedding our coats and boots in the garage. We had just spent the last hour and a half shoveling snow. Actually, Emma had been making snow angels and firing snowballs at me while I shoveled out my car and the neighbor’s mailbox. Her cheeks were red and the edges of her hair that had been sticking out of her hat were wet.
My wife and our oldest daughter were out (conveniently) so my 6 year old and I spent the morning outside. It was just the first thing on my list of things to get done that Sunday. After shoveling and dodging snowballs, I was hungry too.
“Sounds good kiddo. Let’s eat lunch.”
“Should I get my tray Daddy?”
Most Sunday afternoon’s, my kitchen is turned in to a diner and I turn in to a short order cook as I prepare anything from a peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to scrambled eggs for the kids. They get to eat out in the living room on their trays and watch television. The half an hour reprieve gives me time to do begin whatever it is that is on the docket for the day. That Sunday my wife asked me if I would like her to write down what needed to be done (which is never a good sign). The President gets the same sort of list from his generals but I’m pretty sure it doesn’t say anything about finishing the laundry.
Our desire to have our kids actively involved with as much as possible short of Himalayan yodeling, time is a commodity. Too often, I find myself moving to try to keep up with the speed of life. I’m dropping off at this practice and picking up from that lesson. I’m home from work long enough to change my pants only to leave for the next activity. There is laundry that needs to be done then folded. I have a basket of wrinkled clothing in my room so mountainous; the white shirts on top could be mistaken for snow caps. And there never seems to be enough time to get it all done. This day was really no different.
“No. Leave your tray. Let’s eat lunch in the kitchen.”
It would have been easy for me to say yes to Emma’s question. I could have made her a ham and cheese sandwich, flipped on the television, and gone about my duties for the day which were plentiful. I was fairly certain my wife wrote something down about emptying the dishwasher before we had to eat with our hands off of paper towels. I also remember something about the wash not folding itself and the vacuum cleaner being unable to vacuum from the closet. In the face of all of that, I decided to eat lunch with my daughter.
I made soup. Actually I opened up some soup and heated it (which, when I’m cooking, equates to being homemade). The two of us sat at the island in our kitchen together with our bowls of chicken noodle trying to find the coolest edge so we could start eating. We talked about the snow. We had a contest to see which one of us could slurp the loudest. We laughed. Emma negotiated for extra chocolate syrup in her hot chocolate (and won) and not once did I notice the speed of life moving past me.
I’m busy. You’re busy. We’re all busy. We’re all looking for more time to do all that is asked of us. And the time we get is valuable. It’s just not as valuable as the people you spend it with. Sometimes you have to forget about trying to keep up. For the 40 minutes or so Emma and I spent slurping, laughing and talking, I could have been doing a lot of other things but none of them seemed important in that moment. I was with my little girl and those things, moving at the speed of life, were all going to have to wait until we finished our soup.