As many of my numerous (see also: 3) readers may have divined at this point, I have a child. That’s the obligatory picture of him up there, and this is another post about my goofy self becoming a daddy.
So yes, as I was saying, I have a child, and I’ve even interacted with him once or twice. And on those occasions, there’s a word that continuously and persistently pops into my head.
That word is ‘perspective’. The word comes to my mind because it is something that my child completely lacks (along with patience, continence, and the ability to tap dance).
Mind you, I’m not talking about three-dimensional perspective here. That he has. “I ain’t raisin no flatlander here!“. If you tilt him away from you, his head appears smaller than it did before. He’s got that “3-D” stuff nailed.
No, I’m talking about perspective as it pertains to judging the relative importance of things. In fact, the idea that certain things are not important has not even begun to occur to little Matthew.
This is because he lacks the experience of more important things. When I’m hungry, I understand that this is not terribly important, and will add “eating” to the list of things that need doing.
When Matthew is hungry, it’s an emergency the scope and scale of which the human race is ill prepared to handle. Or at least he thinks so. And he’ll start doing his best to persuade you, too.
This brings me to my point (sort of). Matthew doesn’t have perspective. I, having all sorts of life experiences to compare stuff to, do. So, not surprisingly, it is up to me, as Daddy, to have perspective for him.
But, more surprisingly, Matthew’s not having it gives me a better view of how important things are. Or rather, it reminds me to look at things from a macro, rather than micro, point of view.
You’re lost, I can see that. Let me give you an example.
Matthew, as has already been stated, thinks that being hungry is the worst possible thing that can happen to him (because so far in his life, that IS the worst thing that has ever happened to him), and he will put all his energy into being unhappy about it until something changes. He does not understand that his being hungry is temporary, will go away soon, and is therefore nothing to really get upset about.
Last Friday, I was late to work so I rushed from the train station to the company where I was scheduled to teach. Not wanting to dirty my shiny shoes, I sidestepped a puddle, only to step into a rock. Down I went, into the muddy grass.
Realization #1: my clean, nicely ironed pants were now filthy with mud.
Realization #2: my hand had landed right in a patch of stinging nettles.
Realization #3: I despise stinging nettles.
Thus I arrived at work: muddy, haggard, hand on fire – only to find that my first student was in fact on vacation, and I didn’t actually have a class for the next hour and a half.
Naturally, this seemed the worst possible thing that could happen to me, and I put all my energy into being unhappy about it. After a little while though, I remembered little Matthew and his world view (or lack thereof), and compared it with my own:
Was my bad morning temporary? Yeah. Eventually I’d get home, change into clean clothes, and put some lotion on my burning hand.
Would it go away soon? Yup. Not only soon (relatively speaking), but I even knew exactly when; Matthew and his hunger doesn’t even know that.
Was this really something worth getting upset about? In the long run, no.
At that point, I managed to put on a smile and get about my day just fine.
So to sum all that up, babies have no perspective, babies give you perspective, long-view, short-view, micro, macro, etc…
And now, without further ado, I present to you the end of the article. Ta-da!