Two minutes?

“Two minutes?” Her eyes questioned me more than her voice.

“Five minutes”. I wanted her to know it would take longer than she would like.

“Two minutes” is our stock phrase for trying to get Shaina to be patient. Kids with neurological challenges are often impulsive and impatient. When Shaina wants hot chips or her mom’s phone, she wants them “now”.

Attempting to reason with her that we need to finish composing a Whatsapp message is meaningless. So, we default to “two minutes”, which is meant to be something like the South African “just now”.

Shaina has now adopted the phrase. Only she uses it as a question/ challenge.

“Two minutes?” was her cue to me that the rabbi who was talking had gone on too long, and she was ready to leave. I knew he was far from finished and tried to soothe her with my “five minutes” rejoinder. Thirty seconds later, she tried again, “Two minutes?”

“Five minutes”, I whispered and held up five fingers. Her next “two minutes?” was loud and impatient. Tact isn’t her strong set. Taking a hint wasn’t the rabbi’s.

Shaina doesn’t know how long two minutes is. Her sense of time is a variant of Einstein’s Relativity. If she wants something, time moves too slowly. If we need to get somewhere, to school, for example, she morphs into a sloth.

I thought about our “two minutes?” conversation this morning when we headed to school. Shaina’s siblings were itching to go, but Shaina geared down into slo-mo. As soon as I announced we were heading to the car, she sat down to draw. No problem: That allowed me to grab a bowl of Corn Flakes. Breakfast done, I coaxed her towards the front door. She responded by insisting we play a game. Fighting her would have delayed us, so I inhaled deeply and sat with her on the floor. Game over, she happily walked to the car. I was relieved that we were en route.

Not so quick.

As we passed the kitchen counter, Shaina spied her brother’s unfinished morning cereal and stopped for a mop-up operation to ensure his food not go to waste.

Mornings in the Shishler home feature a series of Shaina-related delays. She is unfazed. She cannot read the clock and couldn’t be bothered to try. School, doctor’s appointments, therapies- as long as it’s not to grab her mom’s phone, she’s in no hurry.

I’m that guy who likes to arrive before an event is slated to start. I sweat if I’m two minutes late for the doctor, regardless that I’ll sit for twenty minutes in his waiting room. I like to start my lectures on time, even if there’s only one person in the room.

Shaina thinks I’m nuts. Why rush out the door to sit in traffic when you could play a round of Spot It with your daughter? How can you look at your watch when the Hokey Pokey is playing for the eleventh time?
I wish she could tell us how she perceives time. She would likely suggest I stop watching the clock and live in the moment instead. That’s how she rolls. I wonder, “Does she understand the need to follow a schedule?” She probably wonders, “Does he understand the value of time?” I regularly promise to slow down and enjoy her invitations to dance, play or colour. Some days we waltz; on others, I dash out the door.

We spend our lives rushing from one thing to the next. I feel that Shaina wants us to stop watching time pass and savour its opportunities instead. Any time we spend with our children deserves an extra “two minutes”. We will never get those minutes back.

Driving at her own speed

Published by rabbiarishishler

Husband, father and rabbi of Chabad of Strathavon in Johannesburg, South Africa.

5 thoughts on “Two minutes?

  1. Just love this Rabbi the humor and absolute honesty is so heart warming. Good Shabbos. Sending her hugs and kisses.


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