Time flies. Time is money. Time is of essence. Time is ticking. Sands of time. Time waits for no one. What time is it anyway?
We kill time. We make time. It can be a good time or a bad time. There is quality time, and there is a quantity of time. Time is a product, a tangible thing it seems.
And to raise a child is to understand the paradigm of time. Mainly because children are predisposed to give less of a shit about time then a bird with an imminent bowel movement does about your car.
Seriously. I’ve watched the spawn get ready for daycare in the morning when we are running late. She relishes every bite of her breakfast and stands over her sock drawer to decide which sock would best fit her mood that particular morning. I can swear that I am looking at a slo-mo video. Like snails do Tai Chi faster than her.
Time is so precious, so important, so fleeting when you are running late for work and your child wants to individually brush every one of her teeth.
Children are truly free. Imagine living a life free of hours and minutes, clocks and calendars, schedules and seasons.
Time in relation to child-rearing is an interest concept for a variety of reasons:
You have none: What did I do with all my time before the spawn?!! I should have earned at least a couple of dozen Nobel Peace prizes in all the spare time I had. I swear I use to have at least 36 hours in a day. Hours I use to fill with mid afternoon naps, reading books, binge watching TV shows, creating unnecessary artwork, baking necessary desserts and going to the gym regularly (sometimes). There was so much GTL – gym, tan, laundry. Now it’s just mainly laundry.
Getting anywhere with children requires a degree of time management worthy of being on your resume. When the spawn was a baby, the formula for leaving the house was as follows: Normal time + Packing diaper bag time + Prepping food time + Untimely nap time + Poop accident time = Arrival time (give or take half an hour). As she’s gotten older, it’s gotten better, but still not at normal, childless adult time.
Tides of time: There is no better way of understanding the impact of passing time then to watch your child outgrow the 330th item of clothing. Watching an adult age is a subtle process. At eighteen, most of us have reached adulthood. Most of us. So watching your spouse, friends or even parents age is a nuanced process. Watching a child grow is drastic, and an incredible thing to observe. There are such leaps of physical, psychological and emotional developments in a child in such a short period of time that you truly see the impact of the proverbial sands of time falling through the hourglass.
Cherishing time: Closely linked to the thought above is the idea of memorializing small moments. No wonder humans on this planet will take some trillion odd photos this year. When you have a child evolving in front of your eyes, there comes a need to hold onto every second, to capture a moment at a precise instance. There comes this feeling of wistfulness. You can’t wait to see how they’ll grow and who they’ll become, but you also can’t help feel an ache, a loss of who they are at this specific moment.
Importance of down time: We all spin around all day like the hands of a clock, getting from appointments to meetings to arbitrary timelines we have set up for ourselves. And having a child means adding daycare, school, swimming classes, sports practices and ballet recitals to your lives. This means that whatever little down time you do have, is important. You have to make the most of it, fill it with activities that you enjoy, that your kid will remember spending with you.
Imaginary time: You understand that time really is arbitrary. It’s a concept a bored man invented because he had been staring at shadows too long. Kids don’t respect time because it isn’t a real, tangible thing. They don’t understand the idea of one week or day after tomorrow. They live for this present, current moment and that’s it. Imagine that. Imagine being unshackled from the twines of time.
Inopportune time: You know how they say “There’s a time and place for everything”? Kids don’t believe in that. The day you get your kid all adorably dressed to meet your coworkers and boss, they are going to have an explosive bowel movement that is going to make for a very embarrassing scenario. The day you are part of a wedding ceremony and really need your kid to behave, they’ll have a meltdown of epic proportions. The day you need your spawn to take a nap at a certain time because you have a dinner to go to in the evening, they’ll decide that the world is too interesting for them to go to sleep. They don’t give a shit about appropriate time.
I believe that human beings were always intended to be who children are before society hammers them into dressed, well-behaved, coherent, conforming adults. And so I marvel at the spawn’s ability to treat time as her own, not something she has been loaned, not something she has to hold onto and cherish or run after. Not to fear it, not to calculate it, not to manage it. Not something to change herself for. She’ll learn it one day, I know. I’ll teach it to her because she has to live in this world after all.
So I try my best and smell the roses with her on some mornings as we hurriedly walk to the daycare. Even when we are running late. I try my best to hide my impatience. Try to slow down, find enjoyment in the little things she enjoys. Because one day when I am grey and old, I’ll be too slow for her. And she’ll get impatient with me because she’s got an appointment, somewhere to be. And all my time will be mine by then. Because only the young are the prisoners of time. And I’ll tell her to slow down, to smell the roses, to be patient, to make time, to give time, to spend time. Spend it like its hers and not loaned to her.