Small Moments

A few days after Christmas, the Norry family headed West in search of fun, adventure, and larger-than-life family moments. We had a fabulous time, and there’s certainly plenty to remember from our trip. That said, a funny thing happened when a fifth-grader turned my question around, asking me about the highlight of my vacation. I responded confidently and without hesitation: “Helping my daughter clean out her closet.”

While I did not major in physics, my elementary understanding of the second law of thermodynamics (or the law of entropy) is that everything in the natural universe tends toward disorder. Kate’s room is the perfect example of this. Through forces seemingly outside of her control, no matter how often she cleans and organizes, it always ends up a mess. And her closet? It’s a good thing that space is not visible from the hallway!

Kate and I woke up on Saturday with no school, no homework, no club soccer, and very little on our to-do lists. After breakfast, I offered my organizational services, and to my surprise, she accepted. We grabbed some trash bags and got to work. I left my phone in my room and promised myself that I wouldn’t judge. Not distracted by any electronic devices, I began to notice the small things. She tried on two-thirds of her clothes and generated two full bags of give-aways. In the process, I took note of which clothes she really likes. I think I can now tell her jeans from her sister’s.

Even with fewer articles of clothing, we needed additional space, so we attacked the top shelves. Virtually everything we found led to a story: unopened bat mitzvah gifts, a pillowcase full of candy from Halloween (2018 or earlier), a photo album dating back to her days as a toddler, the complete set of Berenstain Bears books, artwork from Kindergarten, and various stuffed animals (of course, she knew when and how she acquired each of them). We laughed as we remembered both the milestones (her bat mitzvah) and the seemingly smaller moments (my reading to her each night), and we argued about the shelf-life of chocolate.

Though each story caused us to veer a bit off course, we eventually completed the task. While I’m still not sure if the newfound tidiness will take hold, I’m proud to report that, each of the past three evenings, I’ve found Kate doing her homework on the floor in her closet. Apparently, she now relishes having a neat space of her own.

In an article appearing in The Bump, Joanne Chen explains relational savoring in this way: “By taking the time to notice the moments you share with your child and relishing all the little details surrounding it, you enhance your emotional well being and overall life satisfaction.” This might seem quite intuitive, but one of our greatest challenges as parents is to slow down, be mindful, live in the moment, and awaken to the daily experiences with our children. This past Saturday, I was able to do just that, and I emerged not only happier, but also feeling closer to my teenage daughter. Until someone figures out how to freeze time, taking stock of life’s small moments will have to suffice. Whether you traveled far or stayed at home, I hope that the past few weeks provided you with many of these moments.

Doug Norry
Head of School