HURRY UP, A BOOK ABOUT SLOWING DOWN
By Kate Dopirak
Beach Lane Books, 2020
If ever there was a book for its time, this is it. Surely one (hopefully lasting) lesson that most of us learned in the past six months is that some of the frenetic pace in our lives is not missed when it is gone.
Increasingly in the past decade or so, we adults - and therefore our kids - have been moving ever faster, as though some invisible hand kept turning up the speed on the treadmill, and we are dashing to keep up.
This lovely new book is a gentle reminder to both adults and children that there is more to life than speeding through it.
The illustrations by Christopher Neal capture beautifully the child's life, from the first hurry up out of bed, dashing down the stairs and out to the bus, into the classroom, with the frenzy increased by so many kids - hurry, scurry everywhere.
Back home again, with the telling words, 'Hurry if you want to win." "Hurry so you'll reach the top, HURRY, HURRY - STOP." And just like that, the pictures change to enjoying the world around us, "take a break. Look around, for goodness' sake."
The joys of childhood are shown, not dashed through - "This is what it's all about." You can almost feel your pulse slowing down as you read through the last lovely pages.
As things slowly open up again, and as we resume some semblance of normalcy, all of us do well to consciously decide which activities enrich our lives and which ones just contribute to our sense of agitation and being overburdened.
Consider what you and your family enjoyed most in these weeks when we were abruptly cut off from organized activities, left to find new pastimes, alone or together.
Was it surprising to discover new interests, shared activities, more family time? Have you started new family traditions, enjoyed exploring fun things to do or places to go that you never before had time for?
What would you have to stop doing, either jointly or individually, if you were to resume all the former activities, classes and schedules?
Remember that wonderful feeling at the start of the shutdown, when you were relieved of dashing about, meeting all those obligations on the calendar, and felt just kind of relaxed, with time to spare to fill as you choose.
This could be the topic for several family discussions, as you and the children make decisions about what you want to keep in your lives, and what can be eliminated.
If, after months away, your children are not so eager to resume the dance or trumpet lessons, this seems like a very good time to take a sabbatical, permanent or not.
Remember that not every square on the calendar needs to be filled in for either your kids or you. Time is needed for relaxation, for being able to think new thoughts or invent other ways of living, for developing family relationships and interests.
One gift of the pandemic may be the chance to begin again thoughtfully, carefully, not assuming that hurrying up should be the way of life we resume.
We've been reminded how precious life is. Let's keep that hard-won awareness as we move forward.
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