Navigating Your Child's Education: Ages 3-K

4 min read

A Time for Everything

Mar 11, 2021 8:00 PM

I never thought physics would have a direct impact on my parenting. Yet, as my kids get older, I find myself thinking more about time and space, and I'm beginning to see these realities in a new way.

Age-Old Advice

“Enjoy it; it goes by quick.” I cannot count how many times I’ve been told this by seasoned parents whose children are now adults. Whether this is a word of warning or encouragement or admonition, it’s often followed by, “One minute you’re changing diapers, and the next minute you’re sending them off to college.” Older parents speak of how it feels as if their children grew up overnight, in the blink of an eye. As if somehow time and space were bent in such a way that life is speeding along faster than we can live it.

Traveling at the Speed of Life

I’ve heard many parents my age raising littles and young ones make this command: “Time slow down.” We post about birthdays and first days and big milestones of our little people, and so often include language like “I can’t believe…” and “It seems like just yesterday.” We ask questions like “Where did my baby go?” and “When did you get so big?” It’s as if we can tell, even though we are still in the throes of tantrums and transitions, that our littles are growing up at a rate too fast for our comfort, too fast to be fully savored.

But I must confess that I am not one of those thoughtful, reminiscing-type parents. I have spent the majority of my parenting years so far wondering when a particular stage is going to be finished, when a certain season will be done, when my child will be mature enough to ________________. In short, I have largely been in a hurry to get to my child’s next stage of development. You know, the stage where they sleep like an angel and take care of themselves and never complain or cry and start helping out with some of the household bills. We still haven’t reached this stage, but I tend to operate as if I can speed it along by daydreaming about it.

Hurry Up and Wait

I recognize that this is not the healthiest of parenting mentalities—to constantly wish for what’s ahead to the detriment of enjoying the present moment. Hearing the “enjoy it” advice of older parents or reading the “time slow down” reflection of younger parents generally serves to jolt my less-than-ideal, impatient outlook. They might even help me pause in the moment and consider how I can better take in sweet moments with my little people. But these are only temporary deviations from what seems to be my default perspective on time and parenting: “Are we there yet?” Perhaps I am the only parent on the planet that tends to feel this way. But if on the off chance there are others that can empathize with me, I believe physics may be able to help us.

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A Different Perspective 

I recently heard this quote by German mathematician, physicist and philosopher Hermann Weyl, “The objective world is, it does not happen. Only to the gaze of my consciousness, crawling along the lifeline of my body, does a section of this world come to life as a fleeting image in space which continuously changes in time.” That first line stopped me in my tracks, “The objective world is, it does not happen.” In reflecting on Weyl’s words, American physicist and mathematician Frank Wilczek sheds some light on their meaning. He explains that we as humans tend to carve time into slices (past, present, future), but the theory of relativity teaches us to view time as a whole.

I tend to always think of and view time as a line that we’re on, traveling from one end of that line to the other (wherever it is). Certainly there is a forward progression in raising humans. They start as squirmy babies, grow into curious toddlers, become tenacious children, develop into autonomy-seeking tweens, waltz into teendom, and eveeeentually become adults. That process lends itself to looking like a line. I believe this timeline is to blame for my deep desire for life to keep moving, as if we have to get to some specific place on that line, as if some part of that line is going to be better than another, certainly better than the part I’m on now.

I wonder—if I could let go of my timeline and begin to view time as a whole, how would that impact my parenting? And how would that impact how I see and experience my children as they grow up? What if, instead of seeing a moment or a season in life just as a “slice,” I see it as one facet of a whole? What if, instead of looking at my child as a five-year-old that needs to grow up, I look at this time of her life as a part of the sum total of who she is and will be?

Out(side) of Time

Ecclesiastes 3 is perhaps one of the Bible’s most familiar passages on time. It starts with the famous first verse, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens…” and goes on to list several of these “activities” like planting and uprooting, mourning and dancing, being silent and speaking up. Verses 11 and 14-15a strike me as particularly beautiful and mysterious:

“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end...I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken away from it. God does it so that people will fear him. What is has already been, and what will be has been before…”

While I may not understand the depth of meaning of “what is has already been” or “what will be has been before,” there is one thing that I am sure of and grateful for: God isn’t stuck in my timeline. If He’s not, I don’t have to be either. Maybe it’s not about trying to slow life down or hurry it along at all, but about finding ourselves hidden in Him, the One who “fills everything in every way.” It is in this “space” that we can allow Him to transform us through the renewing of our minds, so that more and more we can see and perceive life—even time and space—grounded in the truth of who He is and what He does.

Worthington Christian School
Written by Worthington Christian School

Founded in 1973, Worthington Christian School (WC) is central Ohio’s leader in Christian education offering a rigorous, college preparatory kindergarten to 12-grade academic program, dedicated to developing the mind of Christ in students through rigorous intellectual, creative, and physical pursuits.