The Rockwood Files: Life in the slow lane

By Gwen Rockwood, newspaper columnist and mama of 3

From the unscientific research I’ve done, I believe every family probably has one – the turtle, the snail, the slowpoke. Do you have one? Or maybe you are one?

In the Rockwood family, it’s our youngest kid, Kate, who is 12 years old. She has done only one thing quickly in her entire life and that was being born. Thanks to a C-section, she arrived mere minutes after they wheeled me into the operating room. If she had been left to her own devices, she might still be in there hanging around.

Kate is somewhat of a mystery to the rest of us. She’s the only person I know who can turn a simple thing like putting on shoes into a 20-minute affair. If I send her upstairs to retrieve a library book, there’s a good chance I won’t see her again for an hour.

To be fair, I don’t think she’s trying to stall or delay. I doubt she’s even aware of how much longer she takes to do things than other people. She’s just someone who refuses to be rushed, hates to be hurried. She has her own internal clock (which might be stuck on snooze). It’s not laziness. She’s just living the slow life – enjoying the moment instead of rushing on to the next one.

Given her penchant for piddling, I was grateful when Kate decided to get a cute, short haircut and only put on makeup for special occasions. If she was one of those tween girls who’s really into primping, we might never see her at all. She’d live in the bathroom full-time. Even without preening, she’s in there quite a bit. A shower is often a half-day event. Her older brother can shower, dress, go outside to shoot basketball and then take another shower before Kate ever finishes rinsing the conditioner out of her hair.

After breakfast on school mornings, the kids go upstairs to brush their teeth and put on their school uniforms. Those are the only two tasks to be done. Yet there have been countless times I’ve stood at her bathroom door, knocking and yelling “It’s time to GO! What is taking so LONG?”

Tom and I often wish we could set up hidden cameras in her room to determine where all her time goes. Is she reading? Daydreaming? Being visited by unicorns? Trapped under something heavy? We can’t figure it out.

For obvious reasons, it can be frustrating at times to corral a slowpoke. When we try to rush her, the results are mixed at best. And she feels miserable when people prod and push her along faster than what comes naturally. She has fully embraced her leisurely pace of life and has decorated her room with a few sloth stuffed animals and wall art. The rest of the world might be in a rush, but the sloths understand. They get it. (Sloths are so slow that it takes them an entire month just to digest one meal!)

In a perfect world, I would remember to factor in some extra “turtle time” so we could get through the day without needing to rush. I’m often guilty of trying to cram in one or two more tasks before we leave the house, which means I’m usually flying out of here in a frenzy. But slowpokes don’t shift into frenzy gear. Like the proverbial turtle in Aesop’s fable, Kate would rather have the silly rabbits run ahead and leave her be. Slow and steady is how she rolls.

I hope my little slowpoke knows that, even though it makes me crazy at times, I do admire the wisdom in her more relaxed rate of speed. The truth is that peace is found in the small, still moments. Great ideas are born in those do-nothing, day-dreamy moments. And perhaps our greatest happiness comes when we simply relish life instead of rushing it.

Gwen Rockwood is a syndicated freelance columnist. Email her at rockwoodfiles@cox.net. Her book is available on Amazon.

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