Yesterday afternooon, 2 minutes before I was to coach my next class, I saw that I had just missed a call from Wil’s speech therapist. I called her back to discover Wil was refusing to get on the school bus. She asked if I would talk to him.
Wil’s sisters had already arrived at his school from theirs on the transfer bus. I could hear his sisters in the background trying to coax Wil on the bus. “Wil, Grandma Leigh is going to be at our house. Don’t you want to see her?”
Wil’s speech therapist handed him her phone to talk to me. I tried similar tactics to no avail. He remained unmoving and unwilling to get on the bus. When his speech therapist took back her phone, I told her I would call my mom and ask her to pick up Wil and his sisters at the school.
I made a quick call to my parents and briefed them on what was happening. My dad answered the phone and promised he would let my mom know. I left my phone at the front desk at work with a co-worker, who is also a good friend, and asked him to pull me out of class if there were any more calls from my mom or the school. I went on to coach the scheduled class.
Fortunately, the next alert from my phone was a text from my mom saying that she had picked up Wil and his sisters. They were all home. Phew! Thanks Mom!
At the end of coaching the class, during the cool-down and stretch portion, we were all taking deep breaths in through our noses and bellies. I explained that if they felt stressed during the day, this technique was calming. I joked though it wouldn’t instantly solve all the world’s problems, it would put them in a better state of mind to solve them (I took a few extra deep breaths for myself).
When I coach classes, the music is loud and energetic and motivating. Along with me adding my own motivation in coaching, I am in a very heightened energetic state of mind when I finish work. This combined with the unexpected phone call had me quite high-strung by the time I was done working and ready to drive home. I decided to listen to calming mediation music on the drive to put me in a more relaxed state of mind, and even out my emotions.
Shortly after I arrived home I asked Wil why he decided not to get on the bus.
“Did something happen to upset you? Was everything ok at school?”
“Can you help me understand why you wouldn’t you get on the bus?”
“Ok, so you are telling me the only reason you didn’t get on the bus was because of Humph?”
“I don’t like Humph either! It stinks! But please do not do that again. When it’s time to get on the bus, you need to get on the bus. If something is bothering you, we can talk about it. Understand?”
“So I won’t get anymore phone calls about you refusing to get on the bus?”
“Ok, high-five! Now let’s do your homework.”
“Buddy, look, your sisters are doing their homework. Let’s do it with them.”
“Ok, either I will do your homework with you, or your dad, or Katherine. You pick.” (Katherine has a special touch doing homework with Wil.)
Wil considered this for a moment, looked around at all of us, then pointed to me. We sat down at the table, had a few stops and starts with his homework, a few more “humphs!” but then we got into a groove and he began to enjoy himself. He had a line segment sheet, that in the end, I could see created a picture of a house. When he had completed the roof, he said, “Mom, look! A tent!” And yes, the roof in fact did look like a tent. His “Humph” moment had completely vanished and his creativity was free-flowing. When he completed his house, we were both very proud of his accomplishments.
After his homework was completed, we decided to chill out on the couch before bedtime.
“Wil, do you want a fizzy water?” Wil and I love La Croix lime flavored sparkling water and his term for it is “fizzy water.”
I handed Wil his can of fizzy water and we settled back on the couch, Wil and I cracked open our cans. Wil said, “Mom, listen!” We both put our ears up to the opening of our cans and listened to the snap, crackle and pop of the water. My world instantly became Wil’s smile with his ear up to his can and the shared sound of snap, crackle, pop. The moment hung in it’s own special place and time. I felt a pure, fulfilled happiness flood over me.
After that moment had passed, and I reflected on it, even though I was “chilling out” on the couch, I realized I really wasn’t chilled out. The TV was a distractive noise that was covering the swirl of activity in my mind. It was only when Wil took my attention as he motioned for me to listen, that I noticed how distracted I was by all that was around me and within my mind. When I tilted my ear to the opening of my can, all of a sudden, my mind stopped. There were no thoughts. There was no TV noise. There was only me, Wil’s smile, and the shared sounds of snap, crackle, pop.
I have found life is full of “Humph” moments just as it is of “Snap, Crackle, Pop” moments. Even though we all say we want Snap, Crackle, Pop moments, for some reason, Humph moments are more valued. I would guess it is that Humph moments are more tangible and easily recognizable, while Snap, Crackle, Pop moments are harder to achieve because there is no achieving.
Humph moments, while frustrating, and sometimes downright debilitating, cause us to dig deep if we want to push ourselves from point A to B. Humph moments require we problem-solve to get ourselves out of them. We try. We go after. We make it happen. They pull us out of our indecision and beg at our creativity. They start with us not wanting to start at all. And with one step, then another, through trial and error, we start to find our way out. We uncover what we see first as a tent, becomes a roof. Gaining such momentum, what once started as a blank page is now a completed house. Humph moments break way to success. We grow in confidence and in abilities. We are able to trek longer lines from A to B. The frustrations may grow bigger, but so do the rewards. In that, Humph moments carry their own form of fulfillment.
Humph moments arrive at our doorstep, both expectedly and not. Where Snap, Crackle, Pop moments are always accessible, yet rarely accessed. Humph moments easily distract us and block our view. I believe we all crave Snap, Crackle, Pop moments. We just have trouble getting there. It’s not that we don’t know how. There are quotes posted about “living in the moment” all over social media, though I doubt the people who post the quotes truly do live there (unless it was the Dalai Lama). The present moment, ironically, is a faraway place to most of us. I do try. I think many of us do. That is why I sometimes play relaxing music in the car on the way home from work. That’s why I take deep breaths in through my nose into my belly. I believe these techniques do work, but many times, I find myself just as I was on the couch. Believing I was relaxed, but truly, the breaths and the music were a distraction, just as the TV was noise, and my mind was a-swirl with thoughts. I am trying rather than being. Striving to get in the present moment is not the same as being in it.
Wil has an uncanny way of inviting me into the bumpy, tactile, frustrating yet growth-inspiring, intensely rewarding journey of Humph moments. As challenging as these moments are, I am grateful to be the one holding Wil’s hand at the other end. And then, without my knowing I have arrived until I have left, I am led into the magic of a Snap, Crackle, Pop moment. There is no trying, no striving, no problem-solving, or doing. Wil accesses entry just by being who he is. Holding his hand, I gain instant entry with him. No relaxing music, no deep belly breaths, or TV distractions required.