Early one Sunday morning I was driving my son to his child-minder’s house as I was on-call and was required to spend the next 24 hours in the hospital covering emergencies. He was 6 years old at the time. Casually I said, ”See how unfair it is that everyone else is in bed and I have to go to work today.” After thinking about it for a while he said, “But Mamma, you are a good girl.’
He completely accepted my work as a part of his life and accommodated it so generously. He was always keen to hear interesting stories from the hospital. He loved ‘House’ and was a big fan of the obnoxious doctor. He excused his behavior in view of how brilliant he was. Of course, I did point out to him that in real life that particular doctor would not be able to keep his job for more than an hour but he was a fan nonetheless.
He was also a fabulous mimic of English as spoken by people from various parts of the world. He and his best friend would spend an entire day pretending to be tourists from South Africa while shopping at Oxford Street. One evening he was on the phone ordering a Chinese meal from our regular take-away. The person who received the phone was of Chinese origin with a strong accent. He started placing the order in a Chinese accent and by the third sentence, both men at either end of the line were in splits of laughter.
I think this attitude comes from being present to others. Often I find it difficult to be present to myself, leave alone anyone else. There are so many distractions, the biggest of them being our agendas, the awful never-ending to-do lists that make us believe that what we need to get done is more important than people. Being present is being alive.