Moving at the speed of family

| July 30, 2020 1:00 AM

Have you ever experienced a moment where you felt that you were living in more than one dimension of time? Or perhaps, you were watching two movies — one in slow-motion and one fast-forwarded — and you were trying to watch both of them together?

My parents were just out visiting for two weeks from the East Coast. As a fun family outing one day, we all decided to go to Silverwood. My husband, my sister, and I knew that my parents would love the beautiful park, good food, and shows, and our children were definitely up for every ride they were tall enough for. My husband and I pictured a nice, relaxing day at Silverwood; watching a show or two, enjoying a meal and some ice cream, and calmly drifting from one ride to another. What could go wrong when you have two young boys, three adults, and two elderly people?

Herein lies the problem: We quickly discovered that the time management for the day was going to take some serious logistics. We had already predetermined to get my dad a wheelchair at the info desk, as he can be unsteady on his feet sometimes, and has always moved very slow. While the chair did definitely improve our pace, we still experienced a great lesson in the passage of time, or perhaps the perception of the passage of time.

While making a stop at the restroom before commencing rides, my kids were in and out in a flash. Wiggling, jumping, and one-upping each other about who would go faster on bumper cars, they were impatient to get started. My dad, on the other hand, floated to the restroom at the pace of a glacier. When he emerged, he and my mom serenely studied the pictures on the walls, remarking about styles of painting and the mimicry of famous classic artists.

When we were finally all ready to go, the kids dashed towards the carousel. We then waited in line. And waited. Courtesy of COVID-19, the rides took longer to board so that sanitation procedures could be performed. My parents did not want to be in the hot sun while the boys were on their ride, so my sister trundled them off to the Quiet Garden while the kids rode.

This process of dash-to-ride-but-hang-on-wait-for-Grandma-now-we-wait-in-line continued for most of the afternoon, until the kids got persistent enough about going to Boulder Beach that we finally gave in. Now, we had to figure out how to amuse the grandparents while the kids were in the water, while not leaving the kids alone, since they’re not great swimmers yet. I felt like I was in a game of tug-of-war, and I was the rope; I spent the next hour trotting back and forth between my parents and sister, and my husband and kids.

But, by the end of the day, everyone had their fill of fun. Two wet and slightly sunburned little boys were tired and happy, and the grandparents prattled on about the beautiful flowers and historic décor. We returned the wheelchair to the info desk, and walked to the car. The kids ran ahead, followed closely by my husband. My sister and my mom shuffled behind with my dad. I drifted in between.

The lesson I learned that day is that life doesn’t always move at the same pace, and neither do the people in it. Sometimes, we have to move at two paces at once. Sometimes, the people we love have different needs and desires, and we have to figure out how to meet those simultaneously. Sometimes it’s inconvenient. Always, it’s worth it. Kids will always grow up too fast, and there will never be enough time to spend with aging parents. Figure out how to float, love intentionally, and be patient. Moving at the speed of family is a gift.

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Nancy Croll is a representative of the Bonners Ferry Chamber of Commerce and co-owner of Boundary Consignments.