Enjoying the right here, right now

Enjoying the right here, right now

It was Christmas yesterday, and - oh! when will it come? - it's Christmas tomorrow.

I celebrated my birthday last month, why is it taking forever to be my birthday again? Wait, is it Christmas yet? Is it bright yet? Do I have school when it gets bright?

Parents of young children will be familiar with these incessant questions, a sign of the mysterious ways in which their children experience time.

Kids cannot comprehend why life should be divided into 24-hour days, seven-day weeks and 365-day years. Human inventions to compartmentalise one's existence, to give the semblance of linear progression, make no sense to them.

Having no sense of time and schedules, tots dawdle. Or they get impatient with anticipation. Or they dawdle while being impatient.

It struck me recently that my younger son Lucien, four years and then some, is feeling his way around this concept of counting out one's days like so much small change.

"When will I be five years old?" he asked one afternoon, hanging from the side of the kitchen sink, watching me do the dishes. "On your next birthday," I replied. "Oct 28."

"Is that tomorrow? When will it be Oct 28 again?" he persisted. "Why is it taking so long for me to be five? I'm never going to be five." He pouted and it looked as if the waterworks might start.

Drying my hands, I took him by the shoulders and steered him to the calendar. "See, here?" I said, pointing at the box with the number 28 in the month of March. "You'll be four years and five months when we get here."

And so it went, showing him month after month, until October. We stuck a sticker on Oct 28 and agreed that he should cross out each day at night until we reached the sticker, and - finally - he would be five.

That hasn't stopped the "what day is it?" questions.

"What day is it?" he would ask at least once on a weekday.

I would tell him. "What day is it after that?" he would ask next. Until, invariably: "When is it Sunday?"

Sunday is when he has his swimming lessons with an adored coach.

And so goes a listing of the days of the week, as though I am Apollonia, the Sicilian first wife of The Godfather Michael Corleone in the 1972 film, ticking off the days in bored English and the wrong order, before she gets blown up by a car bomb.

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