Even the most patient parent gets bored. Or has somewhere to be. Or really doesn’t see what makes this flower—the 400th one drawn in a row—so special. So we want to prod our kids along.
Dinner’s almost ready. We’re going to be late. The game’s about to start. It’s really hot out here.
The entrepreneur Derek Sivers has talked about how hard he works to override these instincts. Because the truth is, as we’ve said, most of the stuff we’re rushing to is not that urgent. “Whatever he’s doing right now, that’s the most important thing,” Derek wrote. “So I encourage him to keep doing it as long as possible. I never say, ‘Come on! Let’s go!’ Of course my adult mind wanders to all the other things we could be doing. But I let it go, and return to that present focus.”
There is a certain amount of Zen in that, which is valuable to us for its own sake. But with regard to our kids, it’s also teaching them a valuable skill. Shouldn’t we want them to develop the ability to focus and pursue their curiosity? Isn’t it worth it for them to get a little dirty or for you to show up to the birthday party a bit late because they were really, intensely alive for a few minutes? Don’t we want them to be present, to not become someone who spends all their energy trying to organize perfect “quality” time when there is so much ordinary, wonderful garbage time to be had?
Override your adult mind. Resist the urge to hurry. It’s not really time to go. You’re exactly where you—and they—need to be.