Later today the decs are coming down. Accepted Christmas etiquette says January 5th is when they do. We were taught it’s bad luck to leave them up later (and a very wrong “Scrooge mentality” to do it earlier). Except that over the years the “putting up” has crept forwards.
Now the decs are up for almost a month by the time Christmas Day dawns. And what was bright, exciting and mood enhancing becomes space-grabbing, un-normal and mood-challenging once we tidy away the presents, say goodbye to visiting family, and prune the fridge and cupboards of unwanted festive tidbits.
Little children have no need for normal or special. Our two wee grandchildren find awe and wonder in the same Christmas details time and time again – whereas the elder grandchildren have no qualms about remaining fixed in front of “tablets” after momentarily acknowledging the festive environment – and us adults increasingly notice the tired tree, the missing decs pulled with once-too-many-times excitement by a small body, and the increasing sense of unease in everything being slightly-out-of-place (still).
We are a species of habit and routine. Much as we proclaim we aren’t – that “routine and habit” is for wrinklies – we crave familiarity mostly.
Each of our little grandchildren – the most “childlike” there can be – have adopted little routines (that change as they change) and which make no sense to anyone else.
It takes the current wee one at least ten minutes from setting off to bed before bed actually happens. He plants his face for Nana to kiss (twice every time) going up the stairs … then straight to the bathroom to remember bath-times (and to drop the plug into the bath) … then to our bed for a snuggle under the cover (three seconds every time) … then to my office and two spins in the “spinny-chair” (one spin one way, and one the other) … then collects two teddies from the teddy-box to throw from his cot (and mock-shock-scoldings from me) … before being lifted from his cot and zipped in his sleep bag/onsie … and the switching on/off/on the lights and then the baby monitor … and then shutting the bedroom door followed by a pitch-black cuddle … and then (finally) to his cot and sleep.
Drives mum and dad nuts. It’s all so unnecessary. Yet he knows. He knows it is his and grandad’s routine.
Nana and his routine is less elaborate and far faster. Mum’s routine is different again. And Dad’s is different – and even faster – again. And each routine is happily accepted by this wee one.
But not by the adults.
The adults think their routine is the only way to do things. That “bad habits” are being taught if bed-time is not done quickly and efficiently. That this wee one will expect all the “extras” (grandad encourages). That the extras are (as yet unexplained with science) “spoiling” the wee one. That five minutes yelling (by himself in the dark) is somehow “good” for the wee one. That the discomfort (or not) teaches him (as yet unexplained by love) something “necessary”.
Become childlike. I think has a lot going for it.
Adults see only the tantrums and think otherwise. Adults also see the (repeated and simplistic) awe and wonder and name it “immature”. Adults see the absence of control in this wee one’s day and think that having adult control is to be mature.
(and miss seeing the control this wee one really has).
Not of yesterday or tomorrow or three hours hence. But of this moment and the next.
Wee ones control only what it is possible to control: being in the moment – living in the moment – being present in the moment to embrace whatever the moment brings.
So when this wee one sees “normal” again today or tomorrow – he will miss the decs for a moment, and then find wonder in seeing the toy-box that has been hidden (by rearranged furniture) this past month. Will find wonder in sifting again the bits intended for a different game that he made his own. Will – as always – find more wonder in each moment than we mature grown-ups usually find in a day. A day we tell ourselves we control (not). Like controlling the next day and week and month (not!!!)
Is not be to the “worst of a child” but the best of a child. To be the best we can be in the moment. That is where control is to be found.
An immature childlike child taught me that.
To me, this is part of what Jesus meant when he said that heaven belongs to such as these. Adults go in and out of religion and the story/teachings of Jesus. Children are always in awe. While I stand firm in my faith/belief, I have had times when I get bored with the religious services, ordeal of the holy days, the constant questioning if “I am doing things right”.
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If I am doing things right.
What a fabulous admission, thank you. One I think all of faith and (obligatory?) religion accept but rarely mention. And you prompt the thought that, as a father, it was something I pondered always. That I and Mrs Paul were responsible for the outcome of our creations. Whereas with grandchildren I have no such thoughts. The realisation that I cannot “control the outcome” is liberating, And, for me, that has allowed Love to become (unconditional) “Love”.
(and the other is that whilst habit and routine are comforting – just as with beliefs – we each change habit and routine without realising we are)
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