It took a 14-month-old to drive the message home. Divided attention is insufficient and obvious. Face time, the real kind, is too important to squander, so take note:
You are not fully present…
I’ve just learned this lesson from my granddaughter, who helped me see my responsibility for a highly unsatisfactory cranky time yesterday morning. I tried to attend to a 60-minute talk on my computer while “playing” with Fiona. She didn’t buy it. She knew I wasn’t there and it was FRUSTRATING.
Okay, of course we can’t give undivided attention all the time. Lives are full and busy. We juggle multiple pulls on our attention. Still, shouldn't we carve out at least a slice or two of our best (all of it, all at once!) to devote to those we love? If we can offer full facetime attention for a half hour, even a quarter hour, I think we’ll find it a highly worthy investment.
In contrast to that first debacle, I shut down other stimuli and gave Fiona full-time facetime this morning (not the commercial version), except for hiding around the corner and calling, “Where’s Grandma?” Instead of unhappy shrieks, we enjoyed squeals and giggles, scrunched-up happy-eyes, squeaks of delight, that wide-legged thumping gait (little feet don’t actually pitter-patter) as she ran drunkenly around the corner.
My reward was a warm body crawling into my lap for a hug and book time before my departure. I felt I’d earned her attention by offering all of mine. It was awfully hard to leave, but the best kind of hard.
Robin Clifford Wood is a writer and writing teacher. She lives in central Maine with her husband and dogs, loves to be outdoors, and enjoys ever-expanding horizons through her grown children and their multi-species families.