Listen Up and Get Together: We Aren’t Really That Busy

Have you noticed that we’re all a little bit too busy these days? I know I’m often scheduling play dates and time to see my own friends not days but weeks in advance.

When did it all get this crazy?

Lately I’m nostalgic for a childhood I remember as spending time on my suburban neighborhood street with other kids, digging for clams in the Great South Bay, having barbecues at my parents’ friends’ houses. We ate, played games, got sunburned. We didn’t rush.

Now I’m concerned that we’re moving at such a fast pace that not only aren’t we seeing the people in front of us, we’re instilling a lifestyle for our children and ultimately our society that puts being busy on a pedestal. An opinion piece in the NY Times, “The ‘Busy’ Trap“, sums the whole issue up perfectly. I also love the comparison of job skills to Richard Scarry characters, among other gems of prose. It’s a must-read.

Bees have a single focus in life

I’m finally getting my hands on the book, Bringing Up Bebe, this week from the library. I can’t wait to read how culture in France might teach us something about slowing down (although I think I’ll be ready to argue that there’s a much different social and work culture there that underlies their approach to child rearing).

I’ve noticed, on a seeming related note, that sometimes we parents don’t let our kids speak for themselves – and that parents don’t listen to their kids. Example: I was at Tysons Mall during the graduation season and saw a Mother and Teen 1 bump into friends, Mother and Teen 2. Here’s how the dialogue went:

  • Mother 1: Hi Teen 2! What are you wearing to the graduation dance?
  • Mother 2: Teen 2 is wearing this great dress from Forever 21. There was a huge sale there. Teen 1, are you going to wear a short or long dress?
  • Mother 1: Teen 1 is wearing a short dress from Nordstrom’s. How did Teen 2 do on her end-of-year test?
  • Mother 2: She did fine. Teen 2, didn’t you do OK on the tests?
  • Preteen 2: Yes, I…
  • Mother 1: Teen 1 came through alright.

What amazed me is that even when the Mothers directed their questions to the girls, it was the mothers that answered – as if the girls weren’t even there! Isn’t that just rude at its base, and instilling the sense that they don’t matter on top of it?

Pandas never seem busy

I try very hard to be present not only with Bug, but with the people I care about. I’m trying to figure out how to live in a world that demands our attention to so many things, which may just not matter. And I am thinking about how to teach this life preservation skill to my daughter.

What do you think? Are you really too busy? Do you use time for leisure and fun? Do you pay attention to the people you care about? If not, why?

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