Noah Websters definition of PRESENT: Now existing, or being at this time; not past or future; Ready at hand; quick in emergency; as present wit; Favorably attentive; not heedless; propitious; Not absent of mind; not abstracted; attentive.
I had an experience today that made me really thoughtful. I took my 5 year old to McDonalds for lunch – a rare treat of unhealthy chemicals we devoured. I committed to myself that I would be totally present and intune to him. He had my full and undivided attention. This was going to be his time. We took our tray outside on this lovely fall day so he could check out the big slide and playground he had yet to explore. A little boy was sitting on the playground just swinging his legs. His eyes lit up at the site of another boy his age. He introduced himself as Connor, asked for Tristen’s name and if he wanted to play with him. Tristen agreed after he had eaten lunch (he was really looking forward to that double cheeseburger).We didn’t have much small talk as we ate our burgers, but he chose to sit close to me instead of sitting across from each other. I enjoyed the coziness. While we were eating, I noticed a couple on the table across from us. Dad had his laptop up and was intent on the screen, eyes never so much as glancing up. Mom was distracted by her fascinating iphone. I wasn’t there to judge. It was just a passive observation. No wonder Connor was eager for a friend. I saw that Connor had come closer so I smiled letting him know he was welcome if he wanted to visit. The boy was very polite and had so many questions. So many why’s that his big mind had been thinking of and he didn’t have anyone to ask. Why was Ronald McDonald a clown, why was he giving money to those people. Why…I explained the mission of Ronald McDonald the best I could. Hamburgers finished, the boys were off to play. They played well together. I noticed how easily Connor was able to make a friend. I saw Tristen show compassion and concern for a little one at the end of the slide and helped him to move to safety. I watched as Tristen tried to find his way to the top of the maze of tunnels and tubes only to come back out again and look and observe from the big picture how to get up to the top. I was impressed with the way his mind worked to figure that out and be successful. What things can we see if we only stop and step back and see the big picture? We learn so much when we are present in the lives of our children. I was thinking this as the boys came back to our table. Best friends by now as children are who will never see each other again. They were playing with their happy meal toy and making the great sound effects that only boys can make. Connor, must have been loud enough to distract dad for a moment because we heard a “You better watch it with that train!” I was watching. He wasn’t. His eyes never left the screen. Connor ignored him and ran off. I thought in a snarky tone “Gosh dad! It’s not a train, it’s a bat mobile. Hello! Get your cool factor on.” He didn’t. That’s when my thoughts turned to our situation and I became an observer of the bigger picture. I saw, in my moment of being present, all that is missed when we are not. Priceless moments that I felt helped me know and understand and love my son even more. I loved seeing his face find mine as he looked for me out of the tunnel windows when he made it to the top. He knew I was watching and I saw his self confidence boost. I listened as he said “Give me the apple slices mom.” hmmm. We will have to work on our “please” and “thank you’s”. I saw this big potential in this little package and I vowed to always be present.