Parenting in the speed vortex

Time-sickness. The speed vortex. The cult of speed. We all live there to some extent. We don’t always realize it, but we do. And it seeps into every aspect of our being – how we eat, exercise, work, connect, make decisions, even how we parent. I’m the mother of a phenomenal little boy. He’s little now, but everyone tells me he won’t be for long. Sometimes it’s hard to believe that, but deep down I do.

As a parent I find myself falling into the speed vortex, making decisions out of my time-sickness, bowing down to the cult of speed. I find myself rushing my son home from our walk just because I'm not patient enough for his slow pace. I tend to have the destination in mind instead of the journey. I find myself putting the puzzle together for him, claiming that he’s not quite ready for that puzzle yet. In reality, I just can’t find the patience to sit there with him while he figures it out…or maybe doesn’t figure it out. It's about the journey, right? I find myself reaching for the shorter bed time stories, opting for the quicker meals, putting his shoes on for him, carrying him down the staircase. He loves walking down stairs. It takes forever. Forever. But he’s kind of obsessed with stairs right now. And that will pass. Next he will be on to something else. One of these days that “something else” will have nothing to do with me, which I’m told is just a part of having your kids grow up. So shouldn’t I find the time, the patience, the presence while he still wants me to be side by side with him on his adventures, no matter how simple and slow they seem?

Hiking at Torrey Pines.jpg

I was hiking with my son and husband in Torrey Pines recently. Before we even started the hike, we decided that we were going to make it all the way to the ocean and then turn around. Ambitious with Toren in tow, but we were apparently feeling quite confident in his hiking abilities. Half way to the water my son stopped on one of the wooden stairs on the path. We turned around and urged him to continue on. He stood at the top of the shallow stair and mustered up the courage to jump off. I was there to catch him. It was a very short drop, but he's new to this whole stair thing. He wanted to try again. I let him. He skidded a bit and fell. He went at it again. Then again. He fell again. Then again. I was ready to continue the hike, so I picked him up to carry him. He lost it - arched back, screaming, you know the drill.

My husband did the most amazing thing. He said it was ok. If Toren wanted to jump off the stair over and over again, why not let him? Well, I thought, then we won’t get to the water…which seemed a devastating thought because that’s the end goal we decided on. Then I realized how silly that was. So I put him down. We spent the next 20 minutes with Toren climbing up that stair and jumping off. Over and over. Again and again. Other hikers passing us. Eventually he got it. He stuck the landing. Priceless look on his face. Proud and happy. And to think, I almost stole that moment from him. We never made it to the water, but seriously who cares?

Really, these kids are figuring out this world at their own pace. It’s important stuff. It's beautiful stuff. It's the stuff that shapes who they are. Don’t let the speed vortex mess that up for them.