My nine-year old son Lucas lives in the moment. I mean that in the literal sense. Everything he does and the entire basis for his thinking revolves around the here and now.
If he wants his iPad now, he wants it now. It doesn’t matter if it’s on 3% and won’t be functional in ten minutes. He wants it now. He will ask for it repeatedly, grab at it incessantly, and refuse any attempts to redirect him. He wants it now.
I can’t explain to him that having it now means he won’t have it later. The concept of device charging and even of consequences don’t seem to settle with him. We’ve had times where he will physically dive past me to grab it mid-air and get in a few swipes, knowing full well that I will snatch it back immediately. He doesn’t care. That snatch-away may happen in three seconds, but he’s all about the now. In the now, he has it in his hands.
His requests are all for the present moment too. Lucas doesn’t tell me what he wants for dinner tomorrow or breakfast next Thursday. He presses “Pizza” on his communication device when he wants pizza. He has no care if he just ate pizza or if it’s 11 o’clock at night or if we’re sitting in traffic. He presses the button, looks me in the eye, and awaits his food. Now.
Honestly, I love that about him. I can’t even begin to explain how much. My son lives in the moment, just as we preach that everyone should do. There are posters and self-books all devoted to the concept that my kid lives his life by.
I watch as my boy enjoys every minute of every day to the best of his ability. He puts down his toys when he chooses and looks out the window when he wants. There’s never any thoughts about, “I should save this for later.” To Lucas, there is no later. There is only this moment, right here, right now. Nothing else is real and I love that.
Trust me, I wish I lived that way. I want to live that way. We all do. For those stuck digging through past memories or what-ifs, that’s a welcome way of thinking. There’s no joy in constantly rehashing a miserable moment from third grade or spending all your time saving up for a rainy day while standing in a non-stop thunderstorm. For many of us, living in the moment is the best possible avenue for a clear head.
I don’t live in the moment, but I don’t live in the past either. I’m over yesterday. Regrets and lost opportunities don’t weigh on my shoulders. I sleep well at night, content with what I’ve done, where I’ve been, and who I’ve become.
For me, it’s about the future. I look ahead and try to anticipate what I need to do in order to keep things smoothly on track. This way of thinking might not be as fun as Lucas’s right-now attitude, but I don’t have that option. I’m the dad. It’s what I need to do.
As my little guy might hop around the house excitedly over his iPad, he doesn’t realize or even care that it needs to be charged. However, I do. I need to. I’m the one thinking ahead to tomorrow and how it will be full of a whole bunch of new “right nows”. When those times come, if his iPad is dead, he won’t be enjoying the moments like he wants to. He needs me there to ensure that his living-in-the-moment way of life goes smoothly in every moment. Without my concern for the future, he won’t have that moment when the time arrives.
He may want pizza today, but he might also want it tomorrow. When he does, we need to have pizza. Someone has to buy it. He’s not popping his head in the freezer and hitting a button on his communication device that says, “Yo. We’re running low on pizza. Hit the supermarket.” They don’t even have such a button. That’s my responsibility. I think it. I do it.
Taking it further, Lucas doesn’t think about what life is going to be like when he grows up either. I doubt he realizes that growing up is a concept that he will even have to deal with. One day, my little guy will be my little man. He won’t be in grade school. He’ll be grown.
I have to think about that fact. It’s up to me, as his father, to plan that out. Where will he live? What life skills will he have? What rules of society will he be most familiar with? What will his future be?
Thinking about my son’s future and realizing that the onus is on me to do so also leads me to the most terrifying thought of all. One day, I won’t be there. One day, I’ll be gone.
Scary? Yes. Very. It’s also something that needs to be planned for. That’s what drives me every day. Whether in terms of his finances, understanding of the world around him, grasp of life skills, or respect for the rules set forth by others, everything I do with him is for his own betterment. Everything I do is so that one day, he can do it on his own. If he can’t, I want there to be a system that ensures someone does it for him.
Lucas may live in the moment, but I live in the future. That way, when I’m not here one day, the moments he lives in will be just as perfect then as they are now.