16 September 2012

paying attention

sometimes, where you think you want to go is not where you end up.
but where you end up is actually a place where you wanted to go.
and needed to go.

i was headed up to Ronan yesterday with Kir and Ian to cheer on Trevor at his cross country meet. i've been able to see T run at each of his meets this year thus far, and Kir has only missed one. but for Ian, this was the first time this season he came out to watch his brother run.

and while Ian loves his brother VERY much, he was not exactly excited to be traveling an hour each way to see a race that lasts about 20 minutes.


because Ian and i were given tickets to the University of Montana football game that afternoon. our first of the season.

Ian LOVES to go to Griz games, both football and basketball. he loves to see Monte, the UM mascot, and Mo, his little sidekick. he loves it when the Griz score and the big cannon goes 'BOOOOOOM!' he loves to get the 'official' program for both teams so he can learn all the names of the players. he loves to get his little Pizza Hut individual cheese pizza and Sprite (and sometimes, a bag of Skittles or M&M's).

so while game time was still 3.5 hours away as we embarked on our journey to the meet, Ian (who was riding shotgun) was clearly a bit agitated from the start.

he kept pointing backwards, telling me to turn around and head towards the stadium.

he started tapping my knees to try and get my attention (although he already had my attention) so that i would reverse course.

he grabbed my shoulder and hand (while it was on the steering wheel) to try and get his point across.

he eventually started raising his voice to both Kir and me...'We're turning around...We're going THIS way...Please turn around please!'

and we kept telling him that we were going to Trevor's race first, and THEN we'll head back towards Missoula so he and Dad can go to the game.

but he only got more and more upset.

until finally, he put his hand on the door handle.
and he pulled it back.
and OPENED the door.
WHILE we were going 75 MPH.

thankfully, he had his seat belt on.

and thankfully, he heard us when we told him to close the door immediately, which he did.

we told him that we were glad that he was safe and okay. we told him that he had made a poor choice, a dangerous choice, and that he could have been very seriously hurt. we told him that you NEVER open the car door while the car is moving.

and you could see his mind trying to process a lot of information and emotion all at once, which is very difficult for him to do. one moment, he is saying 'I'm sorry, Dad..I'm sorry, Mom'. then 'Ian's in BIG trouble'. then 'Ian's NOT okay.' then he starts saying things to himself from stories and songs he knows to try and comfort himself.

but then he said something a little more mysterious, in that i couldn't figure out who he was talking to or exactly what he was talking about.

he said, 'You're NOT paying attention! You're NOT paying attention!'

and i just let him continue talking in hopes that he would slowly and eventually calm down.

which he did.

a little.

we made it to the race, and watched T run his fastest time ever. Ian was given a cowbell to ring from our friends, Jo and Brent Ruby, and he had some fun with that. he embraced his brother after the race and told him that he did a good job.

then we returned to the car to go where Ian really wanted to go in the first place.

we talked with him and decided that while he had shown good behaviour since his poor choice, there nonetheless needed to be some consequences for his actions. so we agreed that he could not do two things that are a part of his weekday routine that he LOVES - watching 'Jeopardy!' and 'Wheel of Fortune' - for one night. he was not too happy about this, and while he agreed to it, he spent most of the rest of the day and evening repeating it to himself and asking me to clarify it so that it was straight in his mind (also in hopes that he might persuade me to change my mind ;).

he and i went to the Griz game and had a great time, and walked home in a light rain that cooled us down and helped to drive out some of the unbearable smoke from regional wildfires that has inundated our valley.

he and T and i went over to the Ruby's for a BBQ and ice cream (and for me, a special treat of a Maple Bacon Ale from Rogue Brewery that Brent bought for me, and that left me feeling somewhat like i had just enjoyed two Maple Bacon Bars from Voodoo Doughnuts in Portland).

and all the while, Ian was continuing to process what had happened earlier that day.

as the evening was winding down, i headed back in from the patio to the kitchen. Ian was in there giggling and grinning and singing a little tune. Typical Jolly Jim.

and he came up to me and said, 'I love you, Dad...GREAT BIG HUG!' and he embraced me in a hug as big as a grizzly bear. i thanked him and said, 'I love you, too, Big Blue'.

then he stood back, and said something that just froze me in my tracks.

he smiled and said, 'Thank you, Dad, for paying attention.'

and that simple phrase that had mystified me earlier in the day suddenly washed over me with a multiplicity of meanings. in his sweet voice, i heard a small symphony of Spirit saying...

'Thank you, Dad, for paying attention to the road and me when i made my dangerous choice, and helping to keep us safe.'

'Thank you, Dad, for paying attention to me over these past several months, where life has been so confusing and uncertain and frightening, and letting me know that you care about me and love me.'

'Thank you, Dad, for paying attention, or at least trying to keep your attention on what's most important in life, even when it's almost impossible to do so because of the pain and shame, the frustration with the situation, and the feelings of being forgotten and forsaken.'

and i melted back into my boy's loving arms and let the tears roll down my cheeks and onto his shoulders.

and i just held him.

or rather, he held me up.

and i realized that where i had thought i wanted to go that day was not where i ended up.

and that where i ended up was a place that down deep, i actually DID want to go. and NEEDED to go.

and i ended up there because, in some mysterious way, through all the fits and starts in my life over these past several months, i've been trying to pay attention in the midst of all the tension.

or Someone has been paying attention to me.

or maybe a little of both.

(Big E & Big B...paying attention and giving affection :)


  1. It's okay. I have trouble paying attention and always want to go the other direction as well.

  2. Thanks for sharing your day, in all its confusions and attentions.
    "Attention" is never ONE thing is it? What we are paying atention to because we can't help it... What we are paying attention to with constant effort... Both, and sometimes neither.
    I really enjoy reading your posts.

    1. thanks, grace...i enjoy reading your blog as well. and kudos for the everyday entries...keep up the great writing! peace, b.