Living in the now - Shawn Loughlin editorial
Two weeks ago, I wrote a column about focusing on the good things in life and not dwelling on the negatives. Speaking of those cheesy wooden quote signs (which I mentioned in that column and my mother loves, by the way) there’s a quote about the attitude mentioned above that would be a prime candidate for an eternal home on wood.
“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened,” is a quote that has been attached to Dr. Seuss, but there’s no credible evidence to back up that claim. Like so many other quotes, its original author may never be known. But, it’s a sentiment that has been kicked around for generations. In recent years, it’s really been co-opted when speaking about people’s deaths. This kind of thinking has been behind the shift to “celebrations of life” versus traditional funeral or memorial services; the idea that someone’s final ceremony should be one that highlights a person’s legacy on earth, honouring all they meant to their friends and family, rather than a morose “mopefest” full of tears and room-temperature sandwiches.
Though she certainly loves her books, my daughter Tallulah isn’t quite old enough to read on her own just yet, so she hasn’t read my column from two weeks back. (Perhaps it’s wishful thinking that, once she can read, the first thing she’ll reach for will be her old man’s column in The Citizen, but a guy can dream.) Anyway, she could stand to learn a thing or two from it, namely living the good times to the fullest, rather than focusing on the bad times, or in this case, the end of a good time.
In the last few weeks, Tallulah has learned some basic counting. She can hold up a few fingers and have a general idea of what they mean, usually in the context of how many bites of dinner, fruit, cookies, etc., she has left to eat. The big three, so far, are five (a full hand, which, to her, means a lot), two (one single finger up on each hand, meaning less than a lot, but not quite done yet) and one (one single finger meaning one more, which translates to almost done, mainly because her parents often cave and give her more of what she likes, even after the ominous “one more” warning).
Two things Tallulah really likes to do right now are to have a bath and to read stories with her parents. So, she’s incorporated her new counting skills into those activities. For example, if we read through a book she likes, she’ll ask us to read it one more time. In the bath, when her toes start getting a bit wrinkly and the water begins to cool, we’ll tell her that she has five more minutes, and I’ll set a timer on my phone. All sounds great, right?
Well, it does and it doesn’t. While it’s great that Tallulah is understanding her numbers and, in a way, the concept of time, she often spends that time lamenting that it’s the last go-round for something she likes.
After she finishes reading a book with Jess, and I sit on the floor next to the rocking chair, Tallulah will ask to read it one more time. However, after Jess starts, on every page, Tallulah will look over at me and flash the one finger up sign (not that one, or not yet, anyway), telling me there’s one more time. She’s so busy telling me that it’s the last time that she misses Jess reading half of the book.
It’s the same in the bath. When we tell her she has five minutes left and I set the timer, instead of playing with her toys or splashing in the water, more often than not she spends the last five minutes of her bath holding up five fingers and looking at us both, telling us that she has five minutes left in her bath.
I’m sure Tallulah will learn this one day, but be sure to enjoy what’s in front of you.