Time to talk: The chance to discuss life's wonders in the tub

A mom learns that the way her sons communicate and when they choose to open up is not always predictable, but always a perfect reason to set aside the to-do list. 

Rebecca Swiller/Staff

I have one minute to put away clean clothes in children's cupboards. It's in that minute that 8-year-old Joah calls out from the bath, "What are you reading at night, Mom?" 

I experience a mild sense of panic. If this is my last day on planet earth, I'd rather spend it discussing literature with my son; if it isn't, I'd rather wake with tidy cupboards. My minute is up.  

"A Reason for God," I reply.

"Oh," Joah raises his eyebrows. He has all the time and all the interest in the world.  "What's that about?"

I'm not used to discussing books, just to ticking them off like one more job. "Well, its basic claim," I begin, "is that you can't prove God exists, but there are clues that he does." 

"Oh," Joah says again. He has been conducting an experiment with a bottle, bubbles and a stray stream of water. He stops to listen.

"So, one clue is that there are conditions in the universe that were just right for life to develop - almost as though the universe was expecting us." I am warming to my subject. I am forgetting I have jobs. 

So is Joah: "That's interesting, because I often think, what if God didn't exist? There'd be nothing. And before the world was made, what was there?" When Joah sits in the bath, he thinks deep thoughts. When I sit in the bath I see grubby toe marks.

"That's another one of the clues." I am no longer seeing dirt, but a boy who likes to talk. "Why would the universe have made itself?"

It is ten minutes before I return to my clean clothes, and my unending mental to-do-list.

My children have a way of derailing me into unexpected sidings. They are not impressed by busyness. Everything must slow down into a good conversation.

My second son now asks me to sit before talking. He knows that standing is just my way of preparing to go. And he won't accept a “hmm or “oh really” for an answer.

My third son lets me stand, but he won't speak to me until my face is firmly in his grip - forehead to forehead, eyeball to eyeball, he mouths his words slowly, knowing my dullness of heart.

"My nose is broken," he explains one sniffly morning. I am still waking; I am still sorting the teetering tower of today's jobs into serviceable piles. But this is a conversation he will not let me miss.

"My nose is not working," he stares into my open eyeball.

"What do you think is wrong?" I return his eyeball gaze.

"I think my nose's batteries need charging."

"Would some warm milk and toast help?"

He releases my face and follows me into the kitchen.

Dusting and emailing, texting, and sweeping are little scraps of jobs, to my children – ones I can scratch around in the dirt for. But when the big juicy worm of talking with them comes along, I need to snap it up before time does.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

QR Code to Time to talk: The chance to discuss life's wonders in the tub
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today