I love my doctor. I first found out about her through a close friend. She and her parents travel 20 minutes, past multiple other medical clinics to see her. When you arrive at our doctor's clinic, you can be pretty sure that you will wait an extra 45 minutes or so past your appointment time in order to see her. Funnily enough, no one complains, or gets annoyed about it, because we know the truth about this doctor. She is REALLY GOOD at her job. She doesn't rush you in and out of her clinic to get through as many patients as possible. She sits, she listens, she ponders, she asks questions, she checks things on her computer, she reviews your medical history over the past 5 years, orders extra tests if necessary and then, and only then, she gives you her diagnosis. Her professional opinion is worth waiting for. It can be trusted as it is the product of time and consideration. No one minds waiting 45 minutes to see her, because you know that every patient is getting the benefit of her time and care. If someone needs more time, she'll give it to them, just as when I need extra time, she'll give it to me. As the patients accumulate in the waiting room, we just nod and smile at each other, we're happy to wait, knowing that everyone benefits when we give our doctor time.
However, do we afford the same privilege to our children? How often do we ask our children to 'hurry up', 'get moving' or 'c'mon'? We impatiently stand over our children as they wrestle with their shoelaces, not allowing them the time to tie them securely to last out the day. At school, we tell our children to hurry up and start working, without giving them the opportunity to ensure they have all their equipment. We don't give them time to mentally plan what they need to do to complete the task, let alone giving them adequate time to complete the task at their own pace. Then we reprimand the children for not giving their work enough thought!
They shovel down only part of their lunch as they don't want to miss a moment of precious play time. At the end of the school day, we wrestle our children into the car so that they are on time for their after school commitments and then we wonder why they are moving so lethargically across the gym floor!
We try so hard to fit the maximum number of educational and recreational opportunities into our kids' lives but as a result, they never ever get the chance to feel that sense of achievement that comes from doing just a few things well. Instead, they rush from one task to the next commitment, just doing enough to get by.
What are we achieving in always pushing our children?
Why don't we organise our mornings in such a way that the last 15 minutes isn't a frantic rush out the door?
Why must children always complete their work quickly?
Why can't we give our children more time to play?
Does it matter if our children don't join the basketball team AND do piano lessons?
Is it possible that we rush our children around because of our own anxieties for our children? Are we so driven by the desire for our children to do their best, be the best and achieve the best that we spend the whole day rushing them from one activity to the next?
What would happen if we just gave our children TIME?
What sort of story could my daughter write if she was given an open-ended time limit within which to prepare, plan and write her story?
What sort of maths problems could my son solve he was allowed to just work quietly at his own pace without been asked to call out answers as quickly as possible?
What games could my children invent after school if I wasn't standing over them demanding they complete their homework before they play?
What conversations could I have in the car with my kids if I wasn't distracted by the time and our potential lateness?
I have a suspicion, that if we gave our children more time, they would certainly do a smaller variety of things. But the things they did do would be more enjoyable for them and reveal their true abilities and talents - simply because they've got time to work on a few skills and demonstrate what they can really do.