Wonder and Awe – The World Through Kids’ Eyes

Happy 2017!! Our 2017 has gotten of to a wonderfully full start. We are so happy to finally have our beautiful baby girl in our arms. Eliza Mary was born in the dead of night in late January and is doing so well. John, Rosie and Clare are fascinated by her and are enjoying learning all the things babies can and can’t do. For the record, if her eyes are open she is quite capable of looking at all 3 kids in 3 different parts of the room at the same time. She is quite talented 😉

Eliza Mary

I must say though, 4 kiddos ages 5 and under is, to quote nearly every person I’ve come in contact with, “quite a handful.” A beautiful handful and I wouldn’t change it. It just takes us longer to get out the door, which is fine. Yesterday’s big accomplishment was making it to the grocery store and home just in time for lunch and timed well enough we didn’t need to stop to feed Eliza while we were out.

While we were out I was gifted (upon reflection, it didn’t seem like a gift in the moment) a change in perspective. We have to cross train tracks to get to the grocery store on base. The tracks are awkwardly placed in relation to the intersections (though I suppose the tracks were there first so it’s not really their fault). This particular line runs only freight trains, which are either long or even longer. Sometimes, as a bonus, the train literally stops while in the intersection. Anxiety always builds as you approach the tracks, “Are we going to get stuck? For how long? Please let us through!!”

So, first time going to the store with the 4 kids by myself, you know my anxiety levels were higher than usual. Which means we got stuck by a train on our way onto base. Of course.

It was alright, it didn’t last forever and was actually kind of interesting (I hadn’t thought about how construction equipment gets from one site to another. Now I know – train). The store went fine and I don’t think we forgot anything – miraculous! We left base at the beginning of the lunch exodus so I expected there to be a back up at the gate as everyone was leaving. While we were waiting in a long line of cars before the tracks the kids started asking if another train was coming in excited voices. They wanted to get stuck by another train.

In my head I was saying “Oh man, please, not another one. Eliza is going to wake up soon. I was really hoping to get lunch on the table before she needed to eat so that the girls could get to their quiet time/nap time on time. Plus there were groceries to put away. No train, please no train!”

Of course, there was a train. It was so long I even took a picture because I had enough time to stare at it and come up with this blog post. My kids were thrilled that there was another train. Their eyes full of wonderment, they kept asking where it was going, what could be inside the boxcars, would there be engines at the back as well or would it be a caboose? Their “awe” was a stark contrast to my own “oh man.” How differently our two perspectives were while looking at this same train. Where I saw inconvenience, they saw infinite possibilities. What I anticipated with pain and angst they anticipated with excitement and pure joy.

It reminded me of G.K. Chesterton’s Orthodoxy when he said:

“Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, “Do it again”; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun; and every evening, “Do it again” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.”

Here were my children exemplifying this marvelous trait. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we adults would exult in our monotony? I am trying to, and I’ve found something that has been helping which I will be blogging about soon.

I hope that today, whatever task you find monotonous, you are able to accomplish it with a spirit of “awe” instead of “oh man.” With that, I’m off to start a load of laundry.

Daily Graces. kktaliaferro.wordpress.com

Surviving Monotony

Part of parenthood is coming to terms with your child’s fascination and obsession with monotony. Anyone who has heard the question “Why?” more than 5 times in a 60 second window understands. Anyone who has had to read the same story 10 times in a single day can empathize. Anyone who has had to listen to the same music in the car for days on end feels my pain.

It’s rather incredible how kids can get the same, if not more, enjoyment out of an activity that they have just engaged in no less than 30 seconds prior. The sheer wonder and pleasure they get from that book, song or slide is baffling. But I have to admit, I’m a little jealous of it.

If I read the same book over and over, I would get bored. Hearing the same music over and over again just makes me lower the volume. Adults seem to value change much more than monotony, which is exactly the opposite of children.

Children, above all, thrive on repetition. I’m currently reading G.K. Chesterton’s Orthodoxy (free on Kindle – nice!). It is a really interesting read. Basically, it’s about his person journey of thought to Christianity. In one section, he talks about how adults shy away from monotony. In his estimation, we falsely believe that when something is monotonous, it is dead – think of a clock, consistently ticking with no variety, no change. “People feel that if the universe was personal, it would vary; if the sun were alive it would dance.”

Chesterton offers an alternate way of viewing monotony. He suggests we look at children and their love of monotony. “Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say “Do it again”; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony.”

It’s so true! It’s exhausting , almost painful, to read Goodnight Moon after the 8th time. The words start to run together, you try to skip a page but your child knows the story too well and catches you and you start to doze by the time the quiet old lady/rabbit whispers hush.

Chesterton challenges his readers to consider someone else who perhaps enjoys monotony. For Chesterton, the world was full of wonderful miracles and as he grew, he began to wonder if perhaps these miracles were more than just happy coincidence, what if they were “repeated exercises of some will.” He says “I had always felt life first as a story: and if there is a story there is a story-teller.” Or, in other words, God.

What if

God makes every daisy separately, but has never gotten tired of making them….The repetition in Nature may not be a mere recurrence; it may be a theatrical encore.

I love this outlook. For those of you who believe in a personal, loving, creative God, this about sums it up. God creates from pure love and joy, exulting in monotony while at the same time creating each person, each tree, each flower uniquely and individually.

So yes, monotony can be grating on the nerves. Rather than letting it irritate us, we can use it as an opportunity to be grateful. We can look at the sunrise and instead of seeing something automatic, pause to revel in it’s brilliance. Instead of dreading the music on repeat, we can appreciate of gift of hearing. We can speed our way through Green Eggs and Ham, or we can let our children’s delight become our own as they shout with glee “I DO NOT LIKE GREEN EGGS AND HAM!”

Do you struggle with monotony? How can you turn something that is monotonous into an opportunity for appreciation or gratitude instead of a moment of frustration and a strong desire to escape?