Only 9am? Really? It feels as though a day’s work has already taken place. Surely by now I should be ready for my evening meal and winding the day down? Evidently not!
“Don’t be so ridiculous!” Time itself tells me. “Of course you can squeeze a thousand and twenty-seven tasks into the space of just two hours, whilst I watch with hands on hips, frequently tutting reminders at you to hurry up.”
Well, it seems that Time is right. Each day sees us at the school gates on time, despite the plethora of hurdles that repeatedly lay in our path, mainly in the form of child-led activities such as: Transferring as much toothpaste as possible from our mouths to the freshly washed, white towel hanging in the bathroom; insisting with all the diplomatic prowess of a three year old that today is in fact the day to wear ill-fitting, plastic, heeled dress up shoes to preschool (“They will help me to climb really well when we go outside for playtime Mummy!”); retrieving a rather old party bag toy from beneath the sofa and of course needing to investigate its potential velocity within the realms of the front room, and many other activities of such a nature. It is pointed out to me by my offspring that these tasks are of much greater importance in their completion than anything loosely related to at least looking and smelling (yes, smelling!) even slightly presentable for the day.
So, now both children have been delivered to their educational establishments without being late, I take a well-earned deep breath and soak up the silence, which appears delighted in its rare moment of being able to frequent all rooms without interruption. I glance towards my daily ‘To Do List’. I haven’t yet decided whether the list writing tendency, which appears to be part of my intrinsic self since childhood, is a positive or negative attribute. The success of completing each item, which are all currently staring back at me, will no doubt determine just how uplifted my mood feels at the end of the day. It is with champion like emotions that I tick, tick and tick again until there is nothing left to tick. Hooray! I win! Sometimes, I may even add an accomplishment to the list after it has actually been done, just so that I can enjoy the smug satisfaction of the all-fabulous, big, fat tick!
Today’s list in my daily planner is somewhat of an eclectic mix. From washing school uniforms, making phone calls, ordering a replacement door handle (courtesy of child number two), making a batch of meals to put in the freezer so that when friends come to stay I can at least look vaguely as though I’ve got my domestic stuff together, but most importantly, reaching a stage in my current illustration so that I can finish it by my self-induced deadline.
I guess I have always been a ‘Planner/Finisher’ (confirmed in black and white whilst partaking in one of those, shall we say ‘interesting’, team days during employment of the past). As much as I tick my way to the end of a task and I complete it, I can’t help but feel slightly envious of those who throw their to-do lists, along with their caution, to the wind. I sometimes wish I could join in a spontaneous activity without feeling some kind of angst in that I should be doing something else, something that I had planned for that day, even though it could most probably wait.
For example, If I had planned to clean out a cupboard in my house (and goodness knows they could all do with it), I would love to think that I could go with the flow depending upon what I would find, just as the boy in Oliver Jeffers’ ‘The Way Back Home’ did. How wonderful! He doesn’t continue with his daily plans, that is if he actually had any at all, but instead decides to fly his find of an aeroplane (yes…an aeroplane in his cupboard!) to the moon. I can’t help thinking that this is metaphorical in its meaning. If we are to just take a chance of the moment, maybe we can discover new skills, new lands and new friends, just as the boy did in this story.
I have read this marvellous book so many times, to both of my children, and I smile every time that I do. I hope that my children will not be as restricted in their daily life as I seem to make myself. I hope that they will embrace the moment, just like Oliver Jeffer’s boy, and see where the unknown takes them. After all, isn’t that how we discover ourselves too?
So, to some extent I find myself in a bit of a dilemma. I need the security of my lists to ensure that essential tasks are completed without missing anything out. But equally, I don’t want to deny myself the opportunity of flying to the moon! Maybe I need to be a bit of a contradiction in terms: I shall add the same item to my list each day and that item will be to embrace the spontaneous (if it is possible to do so). Leave the washing, leave the phone call for a replacement handle for another day and go take a look at what I can find in my cupboards!