Tuesday, January 17, 2012

slowing down

As it was a day off from school yesterday, we took three grandchildren to McDonald's for lunch--along with about a hundred other parents and grandparents. What a lot of noise! 

We spent a longer time than we had planned, which wasn't a big deal. We were having fun. 

One thing that made the stay longer was how long it took one grand-daughter to eat her meal.  Our five-year-old grand-daughter is a deliberate eater. We don't say "slow" anymore, because she has been told it so often by others that she sees herself as slow, and, for her, that is not a positive attribute. She ate a chicken nugget in little teeny bites. She took about 20 minutes to eat the apple slices. In between, we got to hear about gymnastics and her new baby sister and commentary on what was going on around us. 

Actually, if she eats quickly, she gets sick. We don't know why. No one does, but she learned early on that the result of quick eating was not a happy thing. So, she eats slowly, visits in between bites, ruminates about what she sees, and generally takes about four or five times as long as others to eat the same amount--or less. She is healthy and happy. Except that she calls herself slow

I found myself thinking about my word for this year, about being present, and about how often we rush around. We walk fast, we eat fast, we do three things at once. This morning, on my fast walk from the car to the building (it was about 20 degrees out!), I saw a little girl--probably 4 years old--on her way with her dad to the preschool located on the ground floor of my building. She walked up the brick wall (it does look like stairs) along the cut-through--and then went back and did it again. Her father was speaking both English and Spanish to her, but he didn't rush her much (she was well bundled against the cold--more than he was!). Instead, when she stopped to tap the light pole and ask the name of it in Spanish, he told her. She repeated it three times, each time patting the base of the pole. Then she skipped to something else. As I walked behind them--and then passed them--I got the impression that the little girl likes preschool, but she likes the getting there, too. Was she slow? I don't think so. 

I read something this week about multi-tasking. Researchers did brain scans of people doing one task, then doing another, and then doing both at the same time. In the third set of scans, the brain lit up in the areas associated with the two tasks, but to a much smaller degree. It appears that we really can do two things at once--but we don't do either of them well. 

So I'm thinking about my grand-daughter and what it means to slow down. Maybe it shouldn't be such a negative to be slow? To eat more slowly, to enjoy the journey as well as the arrival, to focus on what is important in a day instead of focusing how much there is to do? Quality over quantity? I don't know if the world will let me do that, but I'd like to give it a try from time to time. 


  1. You are brave to go to McDonalds. What a great grandma. I could hardly bear to go with my own kids!

  2. Slowing down--a gift for anyone. I think kids today deliberately need to slow down/reflect. Hope you find that reflective time, too.

  3. I'm a slow eater. I never liked the "eating part" of a date because I eat slow and talk a lot, so most of the time I end up with a to-go box/bag. The only consolation, my father is an even slower eater :-) Slowing down is nice...

    I like the insight on multi-tasking... I'm notorious for that. Good reason to quit: I'll do each individual thing better!

  4. This 'epiphany' about slowing down is something I wish I could remember every day, every moment, like your grand-daughter and the child you watched walking to preschool. Why is it that young children understand this and we forget it so quickly? Thanks for reminding me.

  5. I love this phrase: "She likes the getting there, too." What a beautiful way to express savoring the moment.

  6. Thank you for the reminder that its not always the destination that is most important, but the journey as well!