The other day I was sat outside a cafe with Max, fairly standard behaviour round these parts, when he started holding his finger out to me a’la ET. I followed his lead and touched the tip of his finger with mine adding a little zapping sound for no good reason. This seemed to tickle him no end and inevitably the finger was up again waiting for me to oblige, again I reciprocated this time choosing a buzzing sound which also seemed to go down quite well. The pattern was repeated a number of times as I moved through my full repertoire of sound effects until I was saved by a barista baring gifts.
What I didn’t know was the whole while the lady behind me had been watching the little exchange unfold and with Yoda like profoundness said “there’s nothing quite like being in the now is there”. My reaction was to stare blankly back at her, a look that can be interpreted as either contemplative or docile depending on the generosity of its benefactor. She picked up on my docility and remarked “Tolle”. Same blank stare with perhaps an extra serving of docile for good measure.
The lady now realising what she was dealing with broke into verse about Eckhart Tolle a spiritual teacher who waxes lyrical about the power of living in the now, rather than being burdened by past or future experiences. “Oh that Tolle” I offer up with a knowing grin, she obliges me with a forced grin. I drain my cup of its contents and try desperately to dredge up a ‘now joke’ but can’t come up with one so just say goodbye.
It was only when Max went down for his receding daily snooze that I reflected on the whole incident. She was absolutely right Max was completely in the now; all of him was consumed by the finger game he had invented without a care for anything else. The same could not be said of me; I was wondering where my coffee was, questioning why the peloton of cyclists on the table next door choose to shave their legs and debating whether I can rebrand the left over Bolognese as a toddler friendly Chilli, the finger game was just another distraction.
In hindsight I was a little bit peeved at myself, “naughty Dadd” as Max likes to say, that I couldn’t just sit and indulge myself fully in a moment with my son. I realised that being a parent has taken me further from the now than ever before. I regularly scrutinise past parenting choices and the impact they have on the family, I pre-empt future anxieties surrounding Max’s development and generally attach thoughts to incidents that have either already taken place or are yet to take place. And this comes from a man famed for his laid back approach to all things ‘lifey’.
If there is one thing I think we can take from our kids it’s the ability to live in the now, to empty our heads where possible of the bits and pieces that takes us away from enjoying the moment. The next time, and I hope there is a next time, Max wants to play ET I will be there in it with him.
Have your children ever turned the learning tables and taught you a lesson in life?
As always linking up with Jess at Essentially Jess