Every night my son excitedly points to the page and claps his hands, “There Goldbug,” he mushes in two-year-old speak, when he finds the hidden golden bug. He is excited and proud. Look mama, his eyes say, I found him. Isn’t that great? I smile a smile of approval filled with mock surprise. I turn the page. We do it again.
I hate that book.
I know the words by heart. I could read it with my eyes closed, and some nights, after particularly difficult days, I do. I know where every dump truck, fire engine, and pickle car is located. I know what Pa pig bought; I know Officer Flossy (spoiler alert) nabs Dingo.
Each night we make our way through the book, read the same words, exclaim at the same places, stare at the same pictures. I try like crazy to set the selfishness of my boredom aside, to focus instead on the closeness of the snuggle, the peacefulness of the routine, Guy’s legitimate joyousness when he spots Goldbug. I try to drown the little voice inside urging me to speed read, to skip pages two at a time, to hurry up and finish reading number 352. “Let’s move on”, the voice says, “There are so many other books; it is pointless to always just read the same one over and over.”
I live a life of hurry-hurry, faster-faster, more-more. I like things to clip along smoothly, to repeat a task is inefficient, counterproductive. Don’t do twice what you can do once. This attitude works well for cleaning toilets and balancing checkbooks, but sometimes my thirst for efficiency dribbles over to child rearing. I hear myself squawk with impatience, “I already told you this.” “Don’t make me say it more than once.” “I showed you three times how to…” I want my children to move with me at the frenetic pace I set; they want to stop and study the details of life.
My kids are obsessed with the details. Bugaboo will straddle my lap and examine my face, poking and prodding, “What’s that bump?” she’ll query, “What is a mole? How do you get freckles?” She’s put such effort into her examination, I suspect she knows my mug better than I do. And Guy too will crouch down to investigate a bed of garden rock like the clues to world peace hide within; long after my attention has waned and moved on, he will stay bent, holding pebbles up with a, “Wow,” or “Look Mama”.
I know much of this behavior is developmental. What bores me to tears with its ordinariness is a new revelation to them. What is trite and cliché to me is fresh and novel to them. However, I can’t help but wonder if my fast paced efficiency means I miss some of life’s Goldbugs– little everyday things hidden in plain sight. In my quest for efficiency how often do I skim right over these details, my eye on the “prize” at the end, and miss all the hidden surprises waiting for me if I’d just slow down.
Also check out these great posts by MUD