TIME OUT

 

Time Out 2

Elizabeth Willis Barrett

The other day our namesake grandson pushed his sister making her cry.  I’m afraid Bapa’s and my voices were a little harsh because Barrett ran off and we couldn’t find him for a while.  After a bit of searching in back bedrooms and closets, we found him sitting dejectedly on the stair.  He had put himself in “Time Out.”

A few days later, Barrett threw a football in the family room which his Bapa didn’t catch.  He’d been told not to throw the ball in the house (it definitely wasn’t Bapa who gave the command since, as always, Bapa was very much in the game) but Barrett threw it anyway, knocking down a lamp with the in-completed pass.  “I’m going to Time Out,” he said and promptly put himself back on the stairs.  This action sounded very much like, “You can’t fire me, I quit!”

We all sometimes need a Time Out and it’s better if we recognize and acknowledge it ourselves rather than waiting for someone else to suggest it.   Time Out allows us time to think things over, reevaluate what it is we want to do, make plans for a new direction, breathe.

One of our daughters puts herself in Time Out often.  Her kids think she’s punishing herself but Jana is delighted to go to her room, shut the door and be alone for a while.

When all my kids were little, I used to dream of a long Time Out, preferably at my Aunt Blanche’s in Rexburg, Idaho.  I could’t think of a better place to catch my breath and be well cared for at the same time.  It never happened, of course.  Getting to Rexburg from Gilbert, Arizona, isn’t a very convenient trip.  But I thought about it and what it might feel like to get away from constant requests and unlimited deadlines.

Some of my best Time Outs were Time Ins.  I’d stay home and catch up while Brad took the kids away.  When they returned, I was ready to resume our game plan.

Now that the kids are grown, I still have to put myself in Time Out.  Getting on my bike and driving around the canal while I listen to a good book, working through a Cryptogram puzzle, going to lunch with friends, singing with my daughters–those work.  A favorite Time Out is to get in the car with Brad and drive to the cabin. That makes a good get-away from decision making and demands since there isn’t a whole lot you can do while riding in a car except sip on a 44 ouncer, eat pepper chips and keep the driver awake.

And if family meets us at the cabin, it is the best Time Out of all!

 

 

 

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THE WHOLE PACKAGE

 

packages

Elizabeth Willis Barrett

 

In Barbara Walters book Audition, she makes this statement:

“Young people starting out in television sometimes say to me: ‘I want to be you.’ My stock reply is always: ‘Then you have to take the whole package.’”

That thought has made a major change in my thinking.  Whenever I make the mistake of wishing I had what someone else has, I remember: “Then you have to take the whole package.”

Being a famous actress used to sound enticing.  I did get to play Maria in our town’s version of “Sound of Music” years ago.  It was a great opportunity and I thought I was pretty good at the time, but looking back I know I wasn’t.  I don’t need show business in my life and I know I would never want the “whole package” of an actress.  Their lives are often bedraggled and difficult.  For one thing, think how hard it would be to memorize lines day after day.  Who would want to do that?  I can hardly memorize a short poem that I have written myself.

For another, most of their family lives are less than golden.  In some cases, there is more than one person in the family vying for the spotlight and when the light dims, the ensuing shadows must bring on deep despondency.   It’s hard enough for regular people to ward off depression without needing to depend on a public’s reaction for feelings of self-worth.  Having the paparazzi zooming in on one’s every move rather sullies the package, too.

In considering those who have received honors for their fine service to the community, I often think that it would feel good to be highlighted occasionally.  But when it is someone I know and  I am aware of their greater “package,” I know that I wouldn’t want to trade places.

For a long time I wanted to be a renowned speaker, telling huge crowds how to live and be happy (like I know) or how to avoid some of the gaping potholes I have stumbled upon myself.  But after thinking through “the whole package” deal, I don’t think it would be worth it.  I was almost on my way to speechdom when I was asked to deliver words of wisdom to a group out of town.  But the speech time was when one of my daughters was coming here with her family and so I declined.  I didn’t want to miss my daughter’s visit just so I could have thirty minutes of glory.  When I have my children and grandchildren around me, I ask myself if I’d rather be off somewhere giving a speech.  The answer is always “no.”  Famous speakers must miss lots of time with their families.

I’ve always wanted to be a great writer.  But I just listened to the book Dearie, a biography of Julia Child.  She paid a huge price of time, effort, sacrifice and emotion to get Mastering the Art of French Cooking published.  I think she had a wonderful life but she never had children and her husband had a stroke later in his life that caused Julia much sorrow.  I wouldn’t want to take on her “whole package.”

I also just listened to Dan Rather’s book Rather Outspoken.  He’s had a magnificent life of fame and fortune as he has fulfilled his reporting dreams.  But again, his whole package would be rough to unwrap.  I’m sure he wouldn’t want my whole package either, of course.  Can you imagine?!

I don’t think anyone would really want my whole package just like I wouldn’t want anyone else’s.  I’d like the best of one person’s package and the best of another’s and the best of another’s.  But life doesn’t work that way.  It’s the “whole package” or nothing.  That being the case, I’m keeping the one handed out to me.   It contains some pain and some heartache, some doubt and some worry.  But it is also full of delight and happiness, triumph and testimony.

Therefore I will hold my own package fiercely to my un-ample bosom until my soul is squeezed of envy, leaving room for only gratitude and joy.

LIZ’S LAWS

IMG_5338 - Version 2 - 2011-07-04 at 11-18-53

Elizabeth Willis Barrett

The other day I gave a suggestion to one of my sons-in-law as he was wiping up a kid’s spill.  I wasn’t trying to be bossy, but maybe it came out that way.  We don’t always see our own faults as well as we see the faults of others.  You know, the “mote and the beam.” (Luke 6:42)

His exasperated response was, “Liz, why don’t you just write up a list of Liz’s Laws, so we’ll know what you want.

Whoa!  What a proposal! What an opportunity!  Why hadn’t I thought of it myself and a long time ago?

So here it is——-Liz’s Laws.  The listings are in random order and not prioritized.  They are not meant to be pointed at anyone in particular.  They apply to everyone generally.  This list is not intended to be all inclusive because I’m sure I’ve forgotten some very major points and I leave myself room to add an addendum at any time.

1.  If you are going to change a diaper, especially on the new carpet in the family room, please put a towel under the baby.

2.  If the diaper is a very smelly one as many are, please change him on a towel on the washer in the laundry room.  That way the smell doesn’t have to linger forever where everyone’s noses are.  But to be truthful, I am so impressed with the men in our family who are willing to be real fathers and change their delightful children, that if this law is overlooked once in a while, I will avert my eyes and nose.

3.  Please do not put cups or glasses or anything containing liquid on a wood surface.  The container will often sweat and leave an unredeemable ring on the wood.  That is what coasters are for–to place those cups on.   Unfortunately, I don’t have any coasters, but you can make do with a magazine or a piece of mail that is sitting around or……….  Never mind–I’ll buy some coasters, if you’ll promise to use them.

4.  Don’t wipe up the floor with a dishtowel.  I know it’s hard to tell the dishtowels from the rags, sometimes, since I use old dishtowels as rags.  But if a cloth is just sitting on the counter it most likely is a dishtowel.  The rags are above the dryer in the laundry room which is in proximity to the kitchen.  And I would rather you use those rags instead of paper towels, too, since they are washable and I don’t have to go out and replace them.

5.  Please don’t scrunch up the couch show pillows and put your head–however clean–on them.  All heads are oily and the scrunch won’t recover if the pillows are used in this manner too often.  These pillows are not replaceable until I buy new couches that come with new pillows.  That will not happen for years.  There are many old pillows in the cupboards in my bathroom and I will be happy to get you one or two upon request.

6.  Please put down the toilet seats–both lids.  This is good Feng Shui.  Also, probably next to impossible.

7.  Don’t put wet towels on beds or hang them over furniture.  They will get everything they touch wet.

8.  If you’re going to wipe off the wood table, which is very much appreciated, by the way, please then wipe it down with a dry cloth.

9.  Do not eat straight out of a pan or bowl that others will be serving themselves from.  I haven’t seen this happen in our family, but it doesn’t hurt to list it just in case someone is tempted to do so.

10.  I know we all wipe our hands on the hanging around dishtowel.  It would be better to use paper towels for that purpose but sometimes the dishtowel is more convenient although much less sanitary. But do you have to wipe your face with it?  Come on!  (And if you are being very good and using paper towels to dry your hands, it only takes one, not five!)

(Oh, oh, I’m feeling myself get a little too paranoid and anxious about these laws.  Maybe I shouldn’t have started.  But there’s more!)

11.  Do not let the kids eat on the carpet or couches.

12.  Do not let the kids touch the pianos, computers, Ipads, or phones.

13.  When wiping off a counter, don’t let the dishcloth drip across the floor.

14.  If kids are going to drink pop, don’t leave 1/2 drunk cans all over.

15.  If you know that your child just might wet the bed, please protect the beds.  I didn’t obey this rule when I was in your position, so I probably don’t have the right to impose this law, but it would save a lot of grief.

16.  When dishing up your kids food, don’t give them more than you know they can eat.  My rule is eat a little, then eat a little, then eat a little.  Wasting food doesn’t go over very well at my house.  See my essay Waste Not Want Not.

17.  Don’t wash kids off with a dishcloth.  Yuck.  Poor kid!  I have lots of clean cloths that would be more appropriate to use.  See #4.

18.  Before laying a sleeping child on the couch, put down a quilt first.  Who doesn’t slobber when they sleep?

So there you have it–Liz’s Laws.  In reading back over them, I see that many have something to do with moisture.  Interesting.

Mostly, however, I realize that they sound very petty and unimportant when what really matters is that you come.  My family is everything to me–all 28 members.  My joy is full when my home is full of you!

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