I have been blessed with the gift of time as of late. What a lot of people don’t know is that I worked the tireless rat race for a long time. But for the last two years, I have had the opportunity to float through a couple of jobs that has allowed flexibility and part of that is taking my kids to and from school most days. Now, the winter sucked here in SW Ontario so the car trips were short but tedious. Bags, snow pants, salt stains and what always felt like a dozen bags per kid shoved in the hatch of my Mazda 2.
With the warmer, sunnier weather, however, we have done a couple walks to school – this morning was one of those days. Although chilly and a bit too windy for my liking, J (my three year old boy) and I trailed a safe distance behind E (my eight year old girl) while she walked to school. Kids are awesome. She was focussed on getting to the play yard to see her friends after a weekend without too much friend interaction, and J was distracted by the puddles from the winter snow’s last breath, twigs and branches downed by the ice storm and saying good morning to most of the older kids on our route.
E ran around with her friends, and J found a friend from preschool to talk park construction like two old men, I enjoyed the 10 minutes of screams and wonder of the kids around me. Then, I was stopped in my tracks after the bell rang and the black top was no longer littered with back packs, skipping ropes and bouncing basket balls.
J started to pick up little rocks – tiny little stones left over from the cement black top and months of a winter that required the intrusive and harsh abrasion of the ploughs and metal shovels used. The aftermath that most driveways, roads and other similar surfaces endured – a little damage, some pot holes and what lead to be a fun spot to play for J.
Now, as he was picking up these little rocks, he filled both hands. Within the six-inch radius his little eyes could see, he scooped them all up – not one was left in the middle, side or behind of his small sized 8 feet. As he brought up his torso and looked at me with a look of complete accomplishment, he started to walk forward – he stopped dead in his tracks. I knew exactly what it was he saw. Ahead of him were 100s if not 1000s more tiny pebbles and his hands were full.
He looked back up and me and said, “There’s more. But my hands are full”.
Now, as parents, we have a lot of choices to make in how we lead our kids. At this particular moment, I could have told him to put those pebbles in his pocket and scoop up more. I could have said, “Well, there will always be more pebbles so let’s just move on”. I could have held out my hands and helped him. Instead, I asked him, “What would you like to do?”. He quickly replied, “I want to throw these in the puddle and watch them splash”. I told him that sounded like a lot of fun.
That was his solution – although he had hit a minor fork in the road (do I want more than I can take on right now?), he kept his eye on this original goal. His intent, from the moment he bent down to pick up his first pebble, was to go back to that big puddle we had seen over 12 minutes ago and see those pebbles splash. He didn’t let his sister’s friends, or his old soul pal, or even the multiple dogs and conversations he had with them stop him. He knew what he wanted. And while a number of distractions could have stopped him from that, his three year old brain didn’t allow it.
What lesson did I take away from my kids this morning? The same path my daughter took this morning didn’t distract her from getting to the black top. That path was nothing short of a distraction for my son, but along that path he found a goal, took on a few projects along the way, and found his way back to throwing those pebbles in the water.
I think a lot of the time, we (as non three and eight year old minds) easily allow our distractions to define us. I was on a plateau for 15 months. FIFTEEN MONTHS!!! Do you have any clue how frustrating that was? It was. Very. But, in my mind, I know where I was to be – living a life with very little limitation (only accepted limitation would be what is physically and mentally impossible for me to achieve – there are some things that are impossible). I know my long term goal and I know I will get there, but my distractions will not allow mental defeat -ever. And right now, I know there are a lot of things happening in life that I could easily throw my hands up and say fuck it! But, I wont.
What are your goals and how easily do you allow yourself distraction to take and keep you off your path? This is my ONE MORE THING (more on that later this week). Without ongoing goals in life, it’s hard to progress. Without setting limits that are impossible today, you may never know how far you can reach tomorrow.
Goals may be in many forms – a certain lift, a financial comfort, a career you have always wanted to try. Regardless, however, of what that goal is, if the passion does not match the goal, I find it almost impossible for us to move forward. Hoping vs. wanting. Wishing vs. doing. It’s all about when and not if.
Go out and make today a great splashing in the puddles kinda day! I know I will.
(dedicated to my two beautiful children – you are truly inspiration to me)