Saturday, January 05, 2008


My daughter has trouble telling time. It’s more than that really, she has trouble with the very concept of time. What time it is, how long it takes to do something, anything much beyond yesterday, today, or tomorrow slips into a haze that is neither chronological nor reliable. So the very idea of telling time is not very compelling, since time doesn’t really exist for A, why would she want to track it?

This, of course, brings up a radical question. Why are we so bent on teaching her to tell time? Oh sure there’s the whole reality thing and the practical matters of how is one going to live without telling time but maybe, just maybe, she’s blessed. If you can’t tell time, and if, in fact, time is meaningless then mortality must be a distant dream.

I’m the sort of person who has felt, not my mortality so much, but the draining away of time keenly. I rush toward every experience, always looking forward, so much so that sometimes that I don’t enjoy the moment because I’m too busy looking forward to the moment that will be, the moment to come. Anticipation and impatience are my hallmarks.

Not so for my dear A, she lives solidly in this moment. There is nothing worse than trying to tell her no, we can’t do that right now, maybe later. There is no later for her, there is only now. In an odd way it affects her relationship with material things. For A ownership is ephemeral, it is only for now and therefore many of her possessions fall away. She gives away her things and for the longest time I didn’t understand why. But it has come to me slowly. Why should she keep something if she has no concept of needing it later, because what is later? And if giving it away means joy right now, the joy of making someone happy, then the temptation is nigh to impossible to resist. Especially if the only thing holding you back is a half remembered admonition from Momma to keep track of your things and not give them away.

Sometimes I watch her and think that she is so lucky to be unencumbered by the ticking clock and the ever lengthening to do list. Her to do list has one item, that which she is doing right now. The ticking clock is meaningless so she can do one thing for as long as it suites her. There are people who circle the globe seeking an understanding of just how to reach this state of being. My dear A was given it naturally.

Many of us experience this with our younger children but A is different, she is 9 years old now and it is past the time when she ought to be moving past this blissful state of timelessness.

So we bought her a watch and it is one of her IEP goals to learn time because even if I envy her “now-centered” existence I also know that I have to break it. At least as much as I can, because she won’t always have a safe purple bedroom down the hall from her Momma. Someday she will want and need to live on her own, she’ll need to get to her job on time and she’ll have to know that chocolate chip cookies must bake for 15 minutes, not 5 minutes and certainly not 55 minutes.

Time is time, and it is passing for she and for me.

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