Friday, October 26, 2018
When my kids were all small I knew that reading to them was essential, but struggled to fit it into our exhausting days. One night I was feeling determined, so I gathered them up and announced that we had four priorities to accomplish before bed. We said a prayer, read scriptures, wrote in their journals, and I read aloud to them from a chapter book.
That night, without intending, the phrase "Priority Four" stuck, and years later it is still how we refer to our evening routine. On any given night in our house you can hear someone say, "Is it time for priority four?" "Can I have ice cream after priority four?" "Eddie, you have to wear clothes to priority four," etc.
It's one of those things we say automatically, without thinking about it. Although lately, I've been thinking about it.
Because here's the thing - I'm a morning person, and one of the downsides to being a morning person is that you are not a night person. Ask me to mop the floors and finish a school project at 5:00 am and I'll do it while singing Disney songs. But ask me to get the kids a drink of water after 8:00 pm and I'll flatly refuse while muttering to myself that I never liked you and you're ruining my life.
So when they ask me to read in the evening, when my patience and motivation have depleted, my impulse is to decline in favor of a bath, ice cream and Ross Poldark. But, hearing them request that I attend to a "priority" on the other hand, puts alternatives in their proper place.
Deepak Chopra has said that "language creates reality," and I think maybe this is what he meant. The word priority is defined as "highest in importance," and when I hear it my brain seems to respond by moving it to the front of its queue.
Priority four has evolved over the years, and can change from day to day. Sometimes we skip the journaling, or watch a YouTube clip instead of reading a book, and some nights all we can pull of is priority one or two.
But we persist in doing it, and referring to it as priority four, because if there is anything in life "higher in importance" then gathering children (and now a tween, and a teenager) with their family to learn or read or pray or talk, I have yet to discover what it is.
I remember distinctly the day my mom turned forty. I was eight at the time, and had always perceived her as younger than my friends...