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Column: The treasure of slowing down
Shannon Casas
Shannon Casas

I may officially be in the season of wishing things would slow down.

This freckled face who wandered into our bedroom about 10 p.m. rubbing his eyes and wearing ninja pajamas — he used to have a smaller face but with big cheeks and a wide smile. Where did that baby go who wore a sleep sack and giggled when you stretched out your hand and shook his little belly? 

And this kid with red sneakers and all his ideas, always making paper airplanes — what happened to the toddler who liked to fight with dinosaurs and who didn’t speak clearly yet?

It’s a strange thing to look at your children and see the versions of themselves that came before. 

I imagine the mystery grows as they do. One day I’ll look at teenagers and wonder where these kids went who liked to build forts and ride bikes and drink seltzer water mostly so they could burp.

Time has always been a thief. Our world sure seems to spin faster than it once did, though.

I recently watched the Mister Rogers movie that came out back in 2018. So, of course I had to go find an episode to remember his sweaters and that famous trolley.

The pace of the show immediately struck me. It’s. So. Slow.

We know how it goes — Mister Rogers walks in, sings “It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” puts on his sweater and takes off his shoes.

Then a character or two show up for conversation and to learn about a few things that day. And at some point we’ll take the trolley to the land of make-believe.

In the world of iPhone games and Netflix kids shows on demand, Mister Rogers feels like another planet — one that spins slower so that time only moves half as fast as it does on earth.

Did Mister Rogers feel as slow in the 1980s of my childhood as it does now? I don’t remember it clearly, but I’m betting the pace didn’t feel quite so countercultural.

If I can convince my children to watch more Mister Rogers, will they slow down?

Sometimes I have to remind them to slow down. The food isn’t going to run off your plate. Just slow down and eat like a person instead of a tiger.

Yes, you can just sit here bored. You don’t have to run or climb or sail down the driveway on your scooter. If it’s raining, you can just sit and watch the rain. The kids are not convinced.

No, you don’t have to take your Nintendo for an hourlong car ride. You can bring a book or just watch the city go by outside your window. What actually happened was they made a Nintendo out of cardboard and pretended to play — which I certainly call a win. The cardboard Nintendo gameplay doesn’t move half as fast as the real one.

Of course, I have to tell myself to slow down sometimes, too.

It can be easy to get caught up in work — there’s always more to do. The pace of news is fast, and sometimes when you’re on that hamster wheel, it’s hard to know how to get off.

When my kids ask me to play, there are always dishes that need to be washed or tables of junk mail that need to be cleared or floors that need to be swept.

But I spent one recent evening sitting on a beanbag ottoman in their playroom as one built a fort and the other gathered little toys into his make-believe world.

Peppa Pig got dressed for the rain. MicroMachines were heading somewhere.

And I was just sitting still, phone on the ground, not in my hand. Their make-believe world may move at a faster pace than Mister Rogers’ neighborhood, but it’s not so fast as the real-life world.

Maybe the world will slow down if we’re just present in the moment. We don’t need to be anywhere else but in the playroom for these few minutes — unless it’s Peppa Pig’s rainstorm, of course.

Shannon Casas is director of audience for Metro Market Media, parent company of The Times. She is a North Hall resident.