Sunday, 19 July 2015

Slaves to Time

Friday June 12th #12

I suppose at some point I should tell you about hankies, odd socks, parties and OCD. I think probably all of us like our routine and some of us slip in to patterns more comfortably than others. So much so that the doctors made a scale for it and sometimes parents hope their children will be higher up on the scale than they should be just to justify the things that they see which couldn't possibly be their fault.

Routine is something me and your mum are going to have to think about very carefully. We'll need to get you into a sleep routine and an eating routine and a bath routine.

And that suits me fine because I live my life in routine and patterns. Routine can be a good thing. It often this makes things easier rather than more difficult. We just hope the routines we give you help and don't make things awkward or make you awkward. And the slightest things can have lasting effects.

The Benedict's and the Newton's, so your family on my side, are handkerchief people. It's an old fashioned thing and not so many people use them anymore. One thing you'll definitely learn is, the world is divided into...
And it could be Elvis or the Beatles or Oasis or Blur or it could be hankies or tissues.

I was taken by the hanky posse. Some people think hankies are disgusting. They want to know how you can carry snot around in your pocket all day. But I don't understand tissue people. For a start they never have tissues when they need them and often sneeze into their hands. When they do have tissues they leave bits of them everywhere. And what do you do with a used tissue if there's no bin around? Put it back in your pocket. I think you'll be a hanky person.

Your mum is a bit more awkward than that that. She uses whatever is available, my granddad would have called her a 'joiner' and that does no good for my routines.

Whichever side of the bed I sleep on, she wants to, wherever I sit on the settee she wants to sit and she even wanted to share my hanky. How disgusting is that?! This will all change when you arrive though. You'll sleep and sit where we need you to and I suppose I'll have to fit around that.

For years I had to carry a hanky in each front pocket. And it's not even like I had a runny nose. I like things to be even and I couldn't be weighed down in one pocket and have nothing in the other, which would make no sense at all. I couldn't have one padded pocket and one empty. It would be uneven. It would feel like the world was going wrong.

The world you’re about to join has many things happening to make it feel like it isn't going wrong. To make it feel like we have some kind of control. One of these things is time keeping.

When I was little my parents were slaves to time. They still are.  And don't get me wrong, this is a wonderful thing. They are reliable. If they say they will be there, they will be. On the dot. And sometimes before you've finished drawing the dot and most definitely before you have time to colour it in.

It is becoming a bit of a problem though. Your granddad gets so on edge now when he has to be somewhere that he ends up being so early that it's ridiculous.

Possibly because of this I have a funny relationship with time keeping.  At parties I was always the first to get picked up. And though I didn't ever have to worry about whether my parents had forgotten about me, games were still going on and I had to leave whilst they were unfinished. I always felt like I was missing something. Probably I was just enjoying myself and sometimes it's best to leave whilst you're having fun rather than waiting until the fun is over and wishing you were somewhere else.

I would also be the first to arrive. At everything. And that meant waiting around for everyone else to get there whilst doing nothing.

Now I'm pretty much always late. I think maybe it was intentional at first but I don't have to practice it any more. I'm not sure how we'll manage this with you. Me and your mum haven't really talked about it yet. Ideally we'll be somewhere in the middle. What I've heard about babies is that everything takes twice as long so maybe our time keeping will go to pot completely.

I do think though that rushing around always worrying about this time and that is stressful. Most of the time, time isn't important. You can spend so much time worrying about being on time or being late that you don't get to enjoy what it is your actually doing. And that's the important thing. Enjoy the moment. Don't worry so much about the next thing or the last thing. Make the most of everything.

And you might wonder how this links to socks. Like hankies, I always had to wear matching socks. I wasn't comfortable if my socks were odd. This is a bit like magical thinking and all humans are a bit like that. For some reason we think things like if our socks don't match our day will be bad. It's ridiculous but it seems to make sense at the time.

Not long ago, and remember, I'm 41 now; I decided to not worry so much about matching socks. I dared myself to wear odd socks. It made me feel awkward and uncomfortable but I pushed ahead anyway. And, surprise surprise, the world didn't end, my day didn't go bad. Everything was okay. It was just the same as always.

What I'm trying to tell you is that routine is important, being organized is important. Equally it's very easy to get bogged down with things which aren't so important and that can stop you making the most of all that is around you. It's easy to make changes, even though sometimes it seems like the hardest thing in the world. Never be scared to change things or challenge things. If worst comes to worst, you can always change them back again.