• Sue Skalicky

Why didn’t I notice these things before?

Updated: Apr 19, 2020

I get up earlier than my son and slip downstairs to the breakfast room for coffee. His game at the last soccer tournament of the winter indoor season doesn’t start for several hours. But, I didn’t sleep well. I kept tossing and turning in between snippets of dreams that didn’t make sense. I shuffle into the large room filled with tables and am reminded of what I’m learning about being mindful. I’m working on being aware of what is going on right now around me to calm my racing heart that beats out of control at times over thoughts of the future that may never happen.

One man sits facing away from me as I approach the coffee pots. He is looking at the TV, absorbing second-hand information about how to protect himself from the coronavirus. As I get closer I notice he is doing something with his right hand. I assume he is adjusting a hearing aid or scratching an itch on the side of his head. But, then I see the plastic knife. He has a firm grip on it as he twists the point into his ear. His eyes never leave the TV and he is unaware of my presence. I’m fascinated by his ingenuity and the concentration he’s applying to the task. At that moment I am not anxious about things I cannot control. I’m drawn into the scene that unfolds before me. I stop and feign watching the TV in case he turns around, but my eyes study his humanity. I envy the intensity of his work. I’m suddenly acutely aware of how often I neglect my own needs because I’m working feverishly to meet my large family’s needs.

Wait! This is gross. Why am I having these thoughts? This is what I get for trying to be present? Do I really want to be aware of everything going on around me?

Then social distancing began. And school ended. And my house filled up. Actually, it was already full, but only at different times during the day and in the evening when we came together for dinner and shared our highs and lows from the day. The day we all spent out there. Now we are all in here. All the time. And I notice everything. I’m present because I can’t get away. I’m tired. I’m overwhelmed at times. But, so much more than that, I’m intrigued.

My son loves learning. He’s nine and can’t sit still. But, his teacher has crafted a series of daily assignments that has him wondering, laughing, accomplishing, trying, and yes, occasionally complaining. But, I don’t think I’ve ever sat next to him and watched him learn. It’s fascinating.

We work side by side at my desk and I’ve become intensely aware of how much he smiles while he interacts with the computer. He is animated as he watches science videos and reads biographies of his favorite soccer players. He reads out loud while moving his whole body. He never sits still. Never. And I wonder if we can borrow the flexible seating that is sitting unused in his classroom. As soon as I can find more anti-bacterial wipes I could wipe it down for him. I should ask his teacher.

I look back to the email I’m writing and I realize I love learning, too. Everything I do needs to be redone. It all needs to go online, but without losing the sense of community. And I love the challenge. I look back at my son bouncing in his chair and I smile. He’s doing this right.

I need a break. I really, really do. But, I also don’t ever want to go back to not noticing the little details of daily living. These last few weeks have been difficult, but they have been filled with memories I will never forget. It took schools, restaurants, businesses, and churches closing their doors for me to sit next to my son and watch him learn. I remember Romans 8:28 and I have a new perspective. God is using this trying time in my life for good. Hhhhm. Fascinating.

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