The older I’ve become, the more I’ve started to make decisions based on convenience. Based on a hunch and a recent experience, I think it may be time to reconsider that as my default approach.
The other day, our 8 m/o daughter, Charlotte, found our poodle Brownie’s water bowl. She crawled with excitement to the bowl and proceeded to promptly spill water all over the floor. Still navigating the world horizontally, her top and pants quickly got drenched.
The thing is, we saw it coming. We saw her coming. Yet, for some reason, we held ourselves back from picking her up and putting her elsewhere and keeping Brownie’s water bowl out of her reach. I don’t know what it was… maybe we were both just tired of the inevitability of her eventually getting to that bowl so we put on our nihilistic caps. Perhaps.
But the reason isn’t as important as the effect that the outcome has had. It made me realise just how weird I found my behaviour to be. What were you thinking? You could have saved yourself a lot of trouble cleaning up if you had just temporarily moved the bowl away from her reach!
That would have been the convenient thing to do, and the normal (sane?) me would have undoubtedly done that!
But here’s the good news that I’ve been working this preamble to get to - Charlotte loved playing in the small puddle that she had curiously created for herself…
The moment Charlotte realised what she had done and how fun (but wrong?) it felt, looking to me, I think, for confirmation that this is all okay. (It is!)
First, when the water spilt, she looked at me, wondering if what she did was okay. When I smiled instead of showing frustration, I think she read it as “go ahead, have fun with the water!” because that’s exactly what she did next. She started doing the frog-style on the floor, hands splashing the water that lay spilt in front of her. Big smiles for minutes straight. I grabbed my phone and took pictures and videos, of course.
What was most surprising to me was that minutes later, my wife went to fill a bucket with water, threw in a few of Charlotte’s plastic toys, and put that in front of her.
Charlotte sat there splashing water for the next hour, having the most concentrated and independent play she has ever had to date. And yes, the wet mess she created was also the biggest since we moved into this apartment a few months ago.
Charlotte all drenched when we decided to upgrade her play to a bucket full of water. I guess her expression is one of shock at our generosity?
And now let me say this: in hindsight, it was absolutely worth it. Nothing makes my heart feel fuller than seeing Charlotte having a genuinely good time playing, not just because she was laughing and having a blast, but also because I know that it is not just playing - nothing is. Through play, she was learning how it feels to touch water, how certain things floated while others sank in it, how cold it feels when water starts drying off the surface of her skin, and any number of things I can no longer remember as having learned from playing.
All of this was made possible by our sudden, unexplainable break from character, choosing something despite inconvenience.
So now what? Figuring out what to do after realising something is usually the hard part because I find it’s very easy to draw the wrong conclusions (definitely a topic for another time).
As we grow older as adults, we will value convenience more and more - it’s the way nature works as our metabolism is slowing down (wow, that’s a difficult sentence to write).
So what, am I supposed to continually seek and opt for inconvenient options all the time? That sounds a bit too much like what you’d find in articles when you google “how to find meaning in life.” Also sounds unsustainable.
This is the only reasonable conclusion I think I can draw from this experience - never make decisions based on convenience as the first or only factor, because sometimes the inconvenient path is more fun, surprising, fulfilling, rewarding, memorable, or all of the aforementioned.
So the tripwire here is to stop when you realise that you’ve made a decision too fast because then, it is likely that you’ve defaulted to your usual decision-making process as an adult like me, which is to choose the most convenient option.