Open thread

Published by Lori Pickert on June 26, 2009 at 11:19 AM

”That’s just how parents are,” Henry explained wisely as he ate the cheese off the top of his slice and wiped his greasy hand on his jeans. “They like to talk about how they used to do things or about how they plan to do things someday, but parents aren’t very good at right now.”Any Which Wall

thank you, Diana, for sending me this quote!


Comment by Lori Pickert on June 26, 2009 at 11:56 AM

i didn’t manage to get an open thread up last weekend because we had company all week and then went out of town over the weekend — but i imagine everyone else is busy with summer activities, too. ;^)

we’ll see if anyone is around this weekend who wants to chat!

Comment by Sarah on June 26, 2009 at 04:29 PM

Have you seen the picture book "Someday Is Not a Day of the Week" by
Denise Brennan-Nelson? The quote above reminds me of it.

Being in the RIGHT NOW requires me to stop all the "stuff" going on in my brain. The past and the future is so much more manageable to me because I can organize them, reframe them, think about them--all in my head. The RIGHT NOW requires me to quiet my brain and DO. And yet it's so much more rewarding.

Great topic starter!

Comment by jen (learning p... on June 26, 2009 at 08:22 PM

I'm here! Thinking about how I hate it when my kids wipe their greasy hands on their clothes...guessing that makes me not very good at "right now." And pondering how on earth I'm supposed to be good at "right now" when right now is always buried in piles of grease-smeared laundry!?!

Comment by reneegrace on June 26, 2009 at 10:33 PM

hmmm... kind of convicting... OUCH! :) That's what summer is all about, right? new habits of saying YES!

Comment by Sarah N. on June 26, 2009 at 10:45 PM

My 5yo and I just finished reading Any Which Wall together and loved it. The quote above was one of my favorites. I asked M if she thought that was true of me and her dad and she said no which made me feel good and suprised me. I am working on being better at right now but I am often too caught up in planning what's coming next to pay attention to the present. I think of all the things we're going to do next week or all the things we'll be able to do together when my 2yo isn't a toddler anymore older or all the things I'll be able to do when the girls are much older. I want to enjoy where we are now.

Comment by Lori Pickert on June 26, 2009 at 11:46 PM

obviously, i have to cop to the focus on past/present that most adults have … when we sit down with our kids to read or do a puzzle or whatever, aren’t we always thinking in some part of our brains — i need to start the laundry before dinner, or i need to call that client in the morning, or did he remember to reschedule the vet appointment…

we always think we can give children a portion of our attention when they want the entire thing. (and we think they’ll think they got the whole thing — as if!) sometimes i don’t even realize how relentlessly some small percentage of my brain is buzzing on something else (a project, a plan, a worry, a list) even when i’m thinking i’m giving them my full attention — and then something happens like a camping trip or a power outage and i realize how *different* it is when i really do completely devote myself to what’s in front of me.

sarah, i’m not familiar with that book, but i will look for it at the library! :^)

you are so right that processing the past and/or present requires something completely different (and easier) than processing the immediate. i keep thinking that if i continue to bring myself back to it again and again, quietly, insistently, eventually it will be habit.

jen, that made laugh out loud — ;^) — and it’s so true … all those daily concerns like laundry and meals … they make for so much background brain noise, breaking our concentration. i gave up on greasy laundry *ages* ago, though. ;^) lost cause!

renee, that would be a *great* habit to work on. :^) and you’re right — summer is a great time for a fresh start!

sarah, yes yes yes — this has been my main thing for the past two years, trying to concentrate on really enjoying *now*, before now becomes yesterday! each stage of life has so much to enjoy — and i’m determined to enjoy it!

Comment by Dawn on June 27, 2009 at 03:16 AM

Oh my! I was reading to the kids today and stopped to go back because I thought I had missed part of the story. Once I went back I realized that I did indeed read it I just did not hear myself read it! Bad! Bad! I should have known that they would have checked me had I missed something but still... not good!

This makes me think about all of our "modern" household "helpers"... washers, dryers, dishwashers... sometimes they become more of a distraction to me than a help. It may be my own little fantasy but I imagine that in the past these were activites that took some focus... you had to set aside time to do those chores from beginning to end... now they are spread throughout my day interupting my abitlity to place focus on what is at hand. "Okay, lets do that... just let me get those clothes into the dryer first"

It could have also helped that in the past each family member had only three outfits and one was only worn on Sunday!

I am working on it... but it can be hard at times!

Comment by kellyi on June 27, 2009 at 07:03 AM

As I read this my one year old came crawling up to me, armed with his current favourite story (a PB Bear board book about getting dressed :)

Of course, now I have to set the laptop to one side and devote myself to the 1000th reading of this book, and this time I promise myself to put every thing into it.

Never fails to amaze me how "in the now" kids can live. It's some thing they need to teach me.

Comment by Susana on June 27, 2009 at 03:03 PM

This quote speaks to my observation that parents talk way too much; the ability to speak is a blessing, but most people drown their kids with their observations, promises, bribes instead of allowing the child to communicate, in whichever method s/he can based on their age. Have you ever observed parents and children at the zoo or museum, most parents just blab on about what they see, never allowing the child to make his/her observations.

To me, living in the NOW is about learning to honour silence, and non verbal communication and allowing the child to lead.

Comment by Helen on June 27, 2009 at 04:30 PM

ha ha! ain't this the truth..I often have to real myself in on a daily basis and remind myself to live in the moment.

Comment by Cordelia on June 27, 2009 at 06:33 PM

A nice thing to think about. I think we'll take a look at the book. Our right now is packing, and so was our yesterday and so is our tomorrow. Dang. Still, doing it together and paying attention to each other as it goes makes for better days.

Dawn, I know what you mean about the "helpers." I think that is one of the reasons camping trips can really ground me--doing things the slow way focuses me, as does limited menu and wardrobe.

Comment by Theresa on June 27, 2009 at 11:52 PM

Oh, my. That one hit close to home. Thanks for the reminder.

Comment by Jennifer on June 28, 2009 at 01:27 AM

I've been working very hard on this since the semester ended in May (I teach college.) I've learned a lot from my husband, who seems to manage to juggle everything (he's the SAD, working PT outside home). He breaks the day up into lots of moments: coffee & newspaper w/o kids, morning reading w/kids, play at home or out and about, cleaning while kids sleep, etc. He's happy if he gets one major errand run/chore done + dinner on the table, and he's very successful! For me, it's easiest not to open the laptop until the kids are asleep, or only during our morning reading time (he reads the newspaper, I read emails, etc.) This seems to work pretty well for us. As for thinking I've missed part of the story I've actually been seamlessly reading while thinking elsewhere, I'll have to keep working on that, though I'm successful at least 70% of the time.

Thanks for the food for thought!

Comment by Lori Pickert on June 28, 2009 at 02:00 PM

dawn, that is so interesting. my dishwasher broke/caught fire this year (GE Profile - avoid, avoid!) and i started washing dishes by hand. i ended up not replacing the dishwasher; i *prefer* washing them. i quickly realized that (1) it doesn't really take any more time, because you practically have to wash dishes before putting them in the dishwasher anyway, and (2) the kitchen is cleaner because i wash *all* the dishes and the ones that didn’t fit in the dishwasher aren't sitting around in the sink and on the counter.

AND, bringing it back to what you were saying, when i am washing the dishes (and it only takes a few minutes, really), i am really aware of what i am doing. i am focused. it’s a very quiet activity. i think about things. it’s very peaceful.

and you are so right — i just do it and focus on it while i’m doing it, and i *can’t* do anything else at the same time — whereas before, filling/emptying was a constant interruption. better to just do one thing and put your mind on it!

i think when we “multi-task” we think we’re getting more done, when really we’re just developing monkey mind…

kelly, so true — and i was thinking about how children always want to add just one more thing onto each activity, stretching it out and out and out, and how often we snap and think, why can’t they be satisfied?! when really they are simply burrowed into the moment, getting every bit of enjoyment out of it.

sometimes i think “no” comes out almost automatically and we need to train ourselves to pause and more seriously consider a “sure, why not”. ;^)

susana, YES YES YES, and teachers are the same way! they ask questions that they don’t actually expect an answer to, obviously, since they don’t even pause before answering their own question…

this all ties back to white space again, your comment about being quiet and letting the children fill the space!

helen, me too — maybe we need to cross-stitch a sampler. ;^)

cordelia, i feel exactly the same way about camping — it really brings your focus down to exactly what is happening right now. there are no distractions. small things suddenly loom large — in a good way. ;^) i just need to learn to channel that when i’m not in the woods!

theresa, a good reminder any time, right? :^) happy weekend!

jennifer, it’s so true re: being happy if you get one thing done — and then you actually accomplish something — whereas if you have a long list and too many expectations you so often don’t accomplish anything! tell your dh i applaud him. ;^)

as my boys get older, i have the blessing of more quiet time to myself — just a little in the morning works wonders for me. i find i can give them my attention fully and more generously if i had a bit of time to myself first!

Comment by Amy on June 28, 2009 at 02:39 PM

First, I'm going to get that book for my 7yo. It's not in our library system. Shoot, looks like it's time for another Amazon order. ;)

Second, the quote makes me defensive. I wonder if that's how my children think of me, too? I try really hard to enjoy the now days (I have a whole post about that!), and I feel like my children are often wanting more, more, more. "When will we do x-y-z again?" they ask, and I get so frustrated. What's wrong with what we're doing now? And I try hard to say "yes," but there's got to be a line, because if I'm saying "yes" resentfully because the baby is napping (in the car, but hey, she's not on me) and I'm sitting outside knitting so I can hear her and the boys are playing outside and the 5yo comes and sees me knitting and says, "Will you play with me?" Of course I say yes, because he's not going to be 5 forever, but what about the part of me that is saying WHY CAN'T I HAVE TEN MINUTES TO SIT AND KNIT?

Comment by Lori Pickert on June 28, 2009 at 04:02 PM

aw, shoot, *another* one? :^)

re: feeling defensive (lol), i think there’s no way we can deny that children are the experts at right now. after all, what seven-year-old cares much about their past? or their future, past their plans for this weekend?

re: ten minutes to just sit and knit — that’s exactly what i was saying in that previous comment about how much *better* i handle immersing myself in the now with them if i’ve had my little chunk of time. there’s no denying that either!

Comment by Dawn on June 28, 2009 at 06:11 PM

LOL about the dishwasher.... This last year has been our first experience with a dishwasher and I don't know that I like it much!
All of this made me think of a book I read years ago... and have revisited parts of since then... A Reasonable Life by Ferenc Mate... Extreme in some ways but a great look at how times have changed...

Comment by Lori Pickert on June 28, 2009 at 09:36 PM

i’m putting that on my library list…

Comment by Kelli on June 29, 2009 at 05:48 PM

Love this quote!
Most convicting.

Thanks for your comment, Lori. I've visited Camp Creek before but it's been a while and I was drawn back in today. Really enjoy it!

Comment by Lori Pickert on June 29, 2009 at 08:11 PM

thank you, kelli! :^)

Comment by J.T. on July 1, 2009 at 02:37 AM

This is probably one of my biggest areas of flaws - is that I am constantly thinking and planning for the future or for the next phase. Now that I have a one year old - I need to be more focused on the "NOW" because it sure does go by too quickly. Perhaps I should look into this book!!! Thank you for the reminder to just stop and BE.

Comment by Laurel Snyder on July 1, 2009 at 05:40 AM

I stumbled on this thread, and just had to write and say thank you to all of you, for thinking... and for thinking out loud, and making me feel honroed to be read and heard.

You are ALL in the now more than so many, more than me most of the time...

A thought--, a kind of reminder that the wisdom of children is the wisdom of children, which is different than the wisdom of grownups, especially MOMS! When we're lucky we learn from our kids, and they from us. But however wise our kids, the wisdom of moms is what keeps the world running, you know?

Some days, I shout and jump into the pillow fort, and we eat peanut butter for supper... because fun matters. And somedays I don't... because someone has to make dinner. Spinach is important too.


You're all wonderful. Thank you, truly.

Comment by Lori Pickert on July 1, 2009 at 05:00 PM

hi j.t., and thank you for your comment!

this ties in nicely to project-based learning, too — learning to focus on what is really happening right now instead of always planning out activities that put the cart before the horse.

thank you, laurel — i know the supper needs to be made .. but it’s true about the wisdom of children. they focus on the moment at hand, which is so often more important than the busyness of food prep and laundry and all those other never-ending chores.

Comment by Lori Pickert on July 1, 2009 at 05:03 PM

hee — laura, i totally blanked on the fact that you were *the* laurel snyder who wrote the book. durr…

thank you for swinging by to comment — and for your work!

Comment by Diana (Ladybug ... on July 5, 2009 at 04:59 AM

Wow, first I must say I impressed that Laurel stopped by!

Second, thanks, Lori, for using my find :) Sorry it took me so long to stop in again (visiting in-laws), but I saw another quote this week I wanted to share, even though this open thread is a week old already...

At the end of "Danny, Champion of the World" Roald Dahl writes:
to Children Who Have Read This Book

When you grow up
and have children of your own
do please remember something important

a stodgy parent is no fun at all

What a child wants
and deserves
is a parent who is

I'm thinking about writing the word SPARKY on my mirror to serve as a reminder to me each morning...

So know I need to go read another kids' book-- found this via via Kids Craft Weekly on Facebook

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