April 18, 2011

getting the pause back

I have been babysitting ever since I was old enough to take the Babysitters Club Class at school. A real dream come true, then, after all the BSC books I'd read - it seemed the coolest thing to be at the age of 12 was a babysitter. At the present time [why yes, 14 years later, I am still at it] while I'm good with toddlers and pre-teens, it would seem that my specialty is babies. Word has apparently spread that there is a 26-year-old Seminary Grad with baby experience [magical words] who will still babysit. I would rather be pretty much anything other than a 26-year-old with a Masters degree who is still babysitting - so I'm not bragging - but I am in high demand. A hot commodity. What do you know.

At present, I nanny for this little tater tot who's about 11 months old. He can crawl at warp speed, he can pull himself up on just about anything, but now - I can see it in his eyes - he wants more than anything to  walk. Over and over, each time hoping for a different result, he pulls himself up to standing, precariously lets go of whatever it is he's pulled himself up on [9/10 times it's some apendage of mine] and stands. Foooooor about 2 seconds. Then he falls squarely onto his little diapered butt.

And a funny thing happens at this point: he looks to me. There is a small window of time - just a couple seconds - in which to decide if he is upset about this fall or not; if he's going to pitch a little fit or if he's going to move along as though nothing happened. I have a lot of power here, as his reaction will be likely be a direct response to my reaction. If I rush over and act like I'm going to call an ambulance, he will probably cry. If I laugh and make a funny face, he will likely shoot me a little two-tooth smile and keep on keepin' on. It would seem we were born with the pause. Without fail, with the majority of babies I know [unless they are legitimately hurt, which is another story entirely, before you go calling CPS on me] there is an event [in this case, the fall], there is a pause, and then there is a reaction.

Somewhere along the line, though, I think the process starts moving a lot faster, and the pause is lost. Now we are adults and it goes like this: we fall, we react. Simple. That little window of time where our moms or nannies are constantly watching us is over. So one day we pause, look up, and realize we have to decide on our own how to react. It's up to me. Am I fine? Am I hurt? Am I upset? Am I going to cry, scream, laugh, yell, throw my toys around in a fit of rage?

Most of the time, I don't pause anymore. Maybe some days are better than others, maybe my reactions on a good day are calm and peaceful and holy. Emphasis on the word maybe. Regardless, something bad happens and I react to it immediately, on instinct. So many times I catch myself, twenty minutes, three hours, four days later, finally pausing to reflect on my actions. And what good is the pause to me then?

This whole train of thought took me to Paul in Romans 7: "I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, and what I hate I do... For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out." Even though I have the desire to do what is good, and most days I do, my inclinations aren't always right. My habits are not always healthy. And as such, my reactions are not always fruitful or productive. I will always be a dirty sinner, as it were, so praying for the erasure of sin and the arrival of perfection seems a little silly. But in watching the munchkin process his little life, I've come to realize that what I can pray for is a pause - a moment to process. A moment to look up for guidance.

Chances are I won't ever get it perfectly right.
Getting the pause back might be a step in the right direction, though.

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