A few weeks ago I was really frazzled. Like, checking my e-mail every two minutes, then looking at the clock, then switching songs on iTunes, then looking at the clock, then pushing Manchild 1 off my lap, then quickly calculating how much time before I needed to start dinner, then wondering why I’m not doing something productive, then checking my e-mail again, then telling Manchild 1, “Just a minute,” while not looking away from the computer. That is when Manchild 1 started throwing things. Which is what 3-year-olds do when they want your attention. I grabbed him, told him not to throw things, and he came back with, “But I want to throw things!”
“I totally deserve this,” I thought, and closed the laptop. I took a deep breath, gathered my thoughts, and hoped for the best. “Well, let’s look for something you can throw,” I heard myself say. (The frazzled part of my mind wondered where that had come from, then patted itself on the back for coming up with such a genius solution in the heat of the moment.)
We settled on the box of beanbags under the desk. He piled the beanbags on one end of the room, set the box on the other end, and we took turns tossing them to the box. Magic. We laughed. He got too close to the box, he threw too far, he made it in. He cheered. I missed. He laughed. I tried again. I missed. He laughed. I screamed. He laughed.
I didn’t miss the music. I didn’t notice the time. Manchild 1 worked up a sweat running between the bean bags and the box, bringing me my missed throws. (It doesn’t take much . . . he’s a sweaty little boy.) We stacked the bean bags as high as we could. We threw them to each other. The computer didn’t miss me. I received no urgent e-mails. For just a few minutes I let myself be immersed in one thing, rather than try to do everything all at once. I am continually amazed at how difficult it is to focus on the one thing, the most important thing and to let all the little insignificant things fall by the wayside. Just as I am continually amazed by the difficulty of remembering that I don’t have to live my life all at once. There will be a time when my body and mind are not required by two little people all the time and I can focus on maintaining an immaculate inbox. But now is not that time. Now is the time to be present for my children, in body and mind. They need to know I am there for them, whether it be to help them control their urges to throw things, or to laugh as we try to balance bean bags on our heads.
Manchild 2 woke up and I brought him to the living room. We all played on the rug. The laptop stayed closed. We laughed.