A stickler for rules and regiment, Jeremy Barnes discovers the benefits of an unplanned day with his daughter.
I’ve been advised that I sometimes come across as having a certain type of personality. I’m often sarcastic, a bit on the nerdy side, and have no use for people unable to think for themselves. Also, I like to be organized -often maybe too organized, to the point where it may cross over into some sort of disorder. I can tell you with a high degree of accuracy what I’m going to be doing every day for the next several months, including what chores I plan on doing each day and what television shows I’ll be watching each night. On a trip to Disney eight years ago I drove my future wife insane with a very detailed itinerary breaking down exactly what we needed to see each day for maximum entertainment. It was our first vacation together as a new family, and because of my rigid scheduling it was very nearly our last.
By necessity fatherhood has increased my scheduling flexibility, though it seems my daughter may exhibit some of the same personality traits I possess. Before going to bed each night she likes to have a rundown of the following day’s plans. She wants to know where she is going, what she’s going to be wearing, and what her “jobs” are going to be. Patronizing her is counterproductive because then explanations are necessary as to why the plans have changed.
Our personalities make days like this past Wednesday pretty rare – days when we leave the house intending to go one place and eventually ending up far off course. The plan was to visit a Native American museum about twenty minutes from our house, but the final destination ended up being lunch with my family at a Catholic retreat center on a small island in Long Island Sound, over an hour away. The story of the switch itself is pretty uninteresting. The weather changed for the better soon after we left and I became aware that my aunt and uncle were in town visiting my parents.
What I did find interesting were several comments over the course of the day from my daughter expressing surprise that I was OK with the plan going off course and with how things had turned out. Some days are worse than others, but I had always thought I kept my anxiety pretty well hidden. As long as “my stuff” at home and at work is where it needs to be I’m usually all right. People know not to touch “my stuff,” but I always assumed they just thought I was kind of a dick.
The other surprise this day out of the ordinary provided was discovering there are still lots of places in Connecticut that I’m not aware of. St Edmund’s Retreat on Ender’s Island in Mystic is a great place to visit if you are in town for some of the more “touristy” attractions. Accessible by car via two narrow causeways, it’s home to waterfront gardens, carved seawalls and numerous fountains and gazebos, all featuring Catholic embellishments and decoration. For those with a taste for the macabre, the severed arm of 13th century cleric St Edmund rests on a pillow under glass in the chapel. Known as a “first class relic” for its rarity, it has been preserved for over 700 years as a pilgrimage site and reliquary.
So we went off script for a day. The sky didn’t fall, the oceans didn’t rise, and truth be told, neither one of us gave it much thought until much later. I learned a lot on this day off script, and it gave me food for thought. Perhaps the best laid plans can be found by just seeing where the day takes us.
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