Wonder in the Age of Convenience

Smile and live. That’s a good motto.

My son and I laid back on my bed the other day.

It was late in the afternoon and the girls were getting ready to go out and we know what that meant: a good half an hour of waiting.

So we stared at the ceiling and watched the ceiling fan spin round.

“Hey, look at that,” I said, pointing up at a wood beam.

“What?” the seven-year-old asked.

“A spider, there.”

“Oh, yeah,” he said.

We watched the spider crawl along the beam, and I said, “What if it fell and landed on…” – I raised my arm and let it fall on my son’s chest – … on you?”

He giggled and then did the same motion with his arm and said, “On you!”

We both laughed.

I started to think. Yes, it is true that we were just waiting for my wife and two daughters, ages nine and three, to get ready to go out. That’s true. But to come to think of it, this was precious time. It’s not often I get good one-on-one time with my son – or any of my children. It is a time to do nothing at all, a time to just shoot the breeze.

It’s not easy to find the time. This is a fast world. There’s the TV and the Internet, not to mention the Nintendo DS, mobile phones and iPods. There are many contraptions in the world. They were designed, in a way, to make our lives easier, to free up time for other pursuits. Convenience stores, mini markets and fast food – those too. Everything at our finger tips. A Blackberry. But the truth be told, we seem to be busier than ever, maybe even more so. Cramming more into our lives because it is just convenient. And because the world has been set up this way by big business, says my skeptical mind, so that they can sell more food, gadgets and movies crafted carefully to ensure abundant sales of toys and Happy Meals. Anything and everything to cram down our throats, cram into our cars, our closets and our rooms. Shop, swallow and go for more. Throw out the old. Buy the new. Get sick, go to the doctors and get on meds. The more the better. That’s what makes a good citizen. That’s what makes the economy go round. That’s what creates jobs. So shop ’til you drop.

As my thoughts wandered over the complexity of convenience, the spider fell.

My son let out a gasp.

Then the spider caught itself with a strand of silk and climbed up again to continue to spin its web in the rafters of my room. Sooner or later a fly would land in the web and the spider would have a feast.

Could I spend so much time on preparing a meal?

I thought about talking to my son about this and convenience and the fast-fast world out there.

But his mind was wandering and he said, “Dad, what if the spider fell into the fan?”

Yeah, I thought, that would be riveting.

Then the girls came in and my wife said, “What’s taking you guys so long?”

I looked at my son and he looked at me

We both smiled.

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