“Tomorrow is a better day.” James says from the bubbly tub. I groan and roll my eyes as I try and cajole my (then) 8-year-old, who was busy organizing and dunking his jungle of animals, to wash his hair.
“You’re supposed to wash your hair when you bathe,” I say. “It’s part of getting clean.”
“But I don’t feel like it,” says James.
“Why not?” I say through clenched teeth, as he works my last nerve on a long day.
“It’s not now.”
I sit back on my heels and think about his answer.
I see James enjoying his bath, playing with his animals in the tub. I can understand that it’s more fun than washing his hair, or scrubbing his body with a bar of soap. During his last bath he created a world in which Arctic and Antarctic animals came together for some bubble bath fun. Of course, in real life a polar bear would never come into contact with a penguin because, as James learned from his research on animals, penguins live south of the equator; polar bears live at the northern end of the earth.
Occasionally, however, polar bears are found wandering parts of Canada looking for something different to gnaw on. I’m sure they would love to snack on a penguin if they could. But Mother Nature won’t allow it. In James’s world, however, the two species co-existed in harmony. When James plays God (of the tub), anything he imagines can happen.
I thought James was procrastinating, but he doesn’t know the meaning of procrastinate. Grown ups, however. do know – and some of us are pretty good at postponing doing something we don’t like to do, especially as a regular practice.
For example, I hate to iron. I’d rather be supervising James’s bath than standing in the basement pressing the wrinkles out of my shirts. They stay on hangers until I’m left scrambling for something to wear. Ironing is really not that important to me. It’s only urgent when I need to wear a shirt with buttons and a collar – something I try to regularly avoid.
James floats on his back enveloped in snowy, white bubbles that fizz like a soft summer rain. His eyes flutter shut and he enters his creative, zen zone. I know if I wait too long, I can’t motivate James to shampoo his hair. So what? So what if James doesn’t wash his hair? What’s the worst that could happen? It smells funky?
While clean hair is important to me, it isn’t to James. So I understand what James meant: if it’s not urgent and not important to me, then tomorrow is a fine day to do that other thing I really don’t want to do today.
That night, James didn’t wash his hair. The next morning, I squirted spray gel on his curly mop. Sometimes, tomorrow is a better day to do something.
What do you think?
Bonus: 4 Questions to Ask Yourself About When to Do Something
1. If it’s important and urgent do it today – like taking your dog out to pee. Right now!
2. If it’s important, but not urgent plan for it another day. Assuming this thing will make a difference in your life 5 years from now – like paying your mortgage – set a deadline to get it done. Most things will fall into this category.
3. If it’s not important, but urgent is it worth doing? Decide whether or not you really need to buy that “half off” Groupon deal on that pole-dancing class you’ve been meaning to try just because it expires tomorrow.
4. If it’s not important and not urgent, why is it on your list? Take item #46 – return bottles to Wegmans – right off your “To Do” list. (Better yet: assign it to your husband since he’s the #1 contributor to those dead soldiers cluttering up the garage).