Posts tagged children
How long will our waffles take?

Have you ever taken kids to a café, restaurant or pretty much anywhere that has required them to wait for something? I recently took my daughter, son and nephew out for breakfast as a school holiday treat. They wanted Belgian waffles from their favorite café. It was a little busy when we arrived, however we were seated quickly and ordered. It didn’t take long for the inevitable questions to start. ‘How long will our waffles take?’ my son asked. Like most children mine have developed a strange but understandable assumption that I know everything, that I am somehow tapped into a deeper understanding of the space time continuum in a way that they are not yet able to access. To them it must seem like I have my own internal WiFi connection and I’m not sharing the password. This connection, they assume, allows me to answer questions that are otherwise impossible to answer. In this case I clearly have no way of knowing how long the waffles will be. I’m not working in the kitchen, I’m not employed by the café, I don’t know how many orders are before us, I don’t know how long it actually takes to plate up the waffles and carry them out to our table. But of course they think I should know.

It’s at these moments I see I have a clear choice. I can 1) get annoyed and be cranky or 2) I can make them think. If I’m doing my job as a parent correctly, then I should always choose to make them think.

‘I don’t know,’ I reply. ‘Do you have a stop watch on your phone?’ I ask.

‘Yes,’ my son replies.

‘Then start it now and when the waffles arrive you will know how long it takes.’

My daughter at least is amused and starts her stop watch. My nephew smiles with an expression of understanding that I’ve said something that makes sense but frustration that it doesn’t answer his question and my son rolls his eyes but starts his stop watch anyway.

I relax as my coffee arrives and we all wait expectantly for the waffles. Occasionally they glance at their stop watches but they don’t ask me again how long it will take now they are in charge of measuring the reality. We are free to discuss other topics and I begin to wonder if this is a one-time winner for me or if I can add it to my parental war chest for future use. Only time, measured on a stop watch, will tell.

Evan Shapiro

This blog is edited and used with permission of the author. Originally posted @


I jumped in the car yesterday, ready to run off to collect the kids from school and taxi them around to their various social engagements with a hidden agenda to perhaps do a little shopping for dinner along the way. The car wouldn’t start.

I sat for a moment as the idea of being late played out in my head like a bad episode of a TV drama. Dance lessons would be missed, after school games forfeited, homework abandoned and my children would go hungry. The day would end in copious tears.

As the car heated up in the hot afternoon sun and the beads of sweat began to drip down my forehead I contemplated the reasons why I hadn’t taken the car for its routine service. They were all justifiable, other bills that needed to be paid, finding a time that was convenient to go without transport, the constant demands of work and parenting. None were as rational as not actually having the car running in good order. My mind moved to wondering why I was so calm in the face of the immediate chaos and I realised that while I had been neglecting the car lately I hadn't been neglecting my mind.

Just like a car, house or any form of construction, the human mind and body require maintenance. You wouldn’t buy a new car without the expectation that it needs looking after. If you decide not to look after it, well the expectation that it will at some point breakdown, like in my case, will certainly be met. You also wouldn’t get on an airplane that was not subject to a stringent routine of servicing and repair. The human mind is no different, it is just as subject to entropy as physical objects.

Our greatest weapon against entropy is maintenance. We can make things work better and last longer if we look after them. It’s safer and much nicer to drive around in a well maintained car, and certainly safer to be in a well looked after aircraft. As your mind and body are what you use to travel through this world practicing routine mindful maintenance can vastly improve your user experience of this very precious existence you find yourself in.

I turned the key again and the car started. Chaos for the moment was averted. There would be no tears before bedtime but there would be more maintenance.

This blog is edited and used with permission of the author. Originally posted @