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When Tanner was about 3, we noticed how slooooooooooooow he eats.
Tiny nibbles. Microscopic bites. Chew chew chew for about 20 minutes. Pause. Tilt head to the left and stare off into space. Repeat.
You guys, most of us could run a marathon in the amount of time it takes him to consume one.entire.meal. And for those who don’t fall into the running category (yours truly) that’s just sad.
“You should live in France,” I tease him. “They enjoy 4 hour meals there. Just ask your Auntie Karen.”
And it’s not like the rest of us are savages. I mean, Ty does gulp his meal in three bites and Bryan is still projecting his ‘fight older brothers to the leftovers’ childhood memories. “No one is going to steal your food, babe.” I assure him.
We used to nit pick at Tanner about his snaily eating style. “C’mon bud. Just a few more bites. Can you please eat faster? As soon as you’re done, you can get down and play.” Clearly, we were the only ones frustrated with his relaxed pace.
I’ll never forget the night he calmly put us in our place. Over pasta with meatballs and grilled broccoli we were madly cheering and urging, “Faster. Faster,” when he put his fork down, cleared his throat and spoke. “You guys. I just wanna TASTE.MY.FOOD.”
Alright then. From that moment forward, we’ve backed off and let our little man eat at his own rhythm. And it’s not just with food. He takes his time. He’s what we call a stroller, an enjoyer, an in the minute-er. And he humbles me daily.
Who in your life invites you to pause? Who takes their leisure and by doing so, requests you do the same?
Tanner’s slow eating habit used to irk me and now it’s one of my favorite attributes about him.
The other night, humbling words tumbled from his mouth again. Ty, Bry and I had eaten, cleared our plates, and I literally stood to start cleaning.
“Mom,” Tanner gestured me across the chair from his, “Will you please sit with me? When you get up while I’m still eating it hurts my feelings.”
I left those dirty dishes faster than you can eat a chocolate cake and plopped myself to meet his eyes and we sat for another thirty minutes while he “tasted” all four bites sitting on his plate.
And you know what? I soaked those moments in, I listened to his stories about playing handball at recess and how he thinks about football “all the time.” Where I’d rushed to clean, tidy, whatever it was that I’d almost chosen to distract myself with, now it was the farthest thing from my mind.
I’m convinced God scatters people in our lives who still us. Who, whether through circumstances or words, ask us to come and sit with them. We don’t have to rush or speed up their situation. We simply get to meet them at their pace and learn that life is beautiful when tasted in big gulps and tiny nibbles and everything in between.
Especially when it includes “tasting food.”