The other day I was outside running. I don’t always run outdoors, but I prefer it to the monotony of the treadmill or running around a track. Often the weather does not cooperate, forcing me to take my cardio where I can get it. But on that day, the weather was pretty close to ideal. The kind of day you would impulsively rush into a committed relationship with even though you’d only known it for a few hours.
So I was outside running.
The circuit I always take leads me right past my daughter’s elementary school. As I was running, I came upon one of those signs that you always see around schools. They have yellow lights that flash at certain times of the day, a sign that says “School Zone” and another sign that indicates a reduced speed, for cars traveling past the school to know when children have been released so they will slow down.
The other day, I was more than halfway into my run, moving at full speed, when I ran under the flashing yellow lights of the school zone sign.
I slowed down.
I wasn’t in a car, truck, motorcycle, or scooter. I was on foot. And when I saw the sign, I instinctively slowed down. Because, ya know, I’m so lightning fast that my foot speed could potentially harm a child. It took me a few seconds to realize what I had done, and when I did I laughed at myself. I do that a lot.
But then I wondered about the sign, my gut response to it, and the wisdom of slowing down around children.
Some of us are ignoring the signs. We’re going way too fast through our brief, but critical, parenting years and it’s putting our kids in danger. Danger of missing out on love, teaching, laughter, and warm memories with mom and/or dad. A lot of us have seen the flashing yellow lights that remind us that children are present and that we need to pull back on the throttle of life, but we’re running right past those signs without changing our tempo.
Oh, but we’ve got our excuses.
I had a driver’s license for 12 years before I ever got a speeding ticket. Then I went through this 4-year stretch where it felt like every time I left the house I was being pulled over by a cop. I had all sorts of explanations for the rash of tickets. My commute had increased from 7 miles each way to almost 50 miles each way. I was in the car for nearly quadruple the amount of time each day. I was just plain unlucky. I kept making excuses, I kept driving fast, and I kept getting tickets. It’s been over 2 years now since I’ve been pulled over for speeding.
I stopped making excuses and just slowed down.
And that’s my challenge to you. When your children are present, stop making excuses and just slow down. Put the laptop away, place the phone on silent and out of reach, and for goodness sake, turn the stinkin’ TV off. Wrestle with your kids, play a game, go for a walk, do a puzzle, read a book with them, make up silly songs and sing them loudly, toss the ball, tell jokes. Make them think, make them laugh, make them feel wanted and loved.
Because the only thing you can’t slow down is how fast they grow up.