Bernie and I shared a long car journey last weekend, as I collected her form her University and drove her to Oxford to visit some friends at University there (I was also attending a reunion of old University friends).
On the way down, she was commenting on how busy life seemed, even though she has relatively few commitments. She has lectures, of course, but only 10 hours or so a week. She has lots to read and essays to write, but even so…
On the way back, we picked up that conversation, and I asked her why she felt dissatisfied with where the time was going. She felt that she wasn’t doing lots of the things she really wanted to do, like get to at least one weekday Mass or felt she should, like study more; or wasn’t giving them enough time.
So I asked her to think about a Perfect Week: what would it involve? What would the balance be between different activities? When would she do the different things?
This notion of a Perfect Week caught her imagination, and we talked it through. She decided that she needed to get some reading done that evening, and then plan her week in detail. But it was film night in the flat: her flatmates were planning to watch a movie she really wanted to see. So she resolved to ask them to wait till she’d done her reading and planning; but if necessary to join them for the movie when she was ready and not before.
I was curious how this would pan out, and we have had the following exchange of texts:
Bernie: Thanks for a lovely weekend in Oxford and roadtripping too papa. I’m sooo glad I could go down and I enjoyed our driving chatter Reading done inside out and notes taken. Took me hours but feel so good about it. Sheets changed, room half tidy. Have my perfect week to timetable now! Film night was sacrificed … well delayed… anyway, night night dada xxxxx
Me: Well done! xxx
Me: How’s perfect week going? xxx
Bernie: Good Lectures – check, daily prayer and rosary – check, Monday Mass – check, bike ride – check, 4.5 extra hours studying – check, flute practice – check, windband – check, Cheered friend up – check, Flat banter – check, Went for a walk with Patrick – check, Film with friends – check, on time for everything – check, Burnt toast – check :/ some things never change…. is yours perfect? xx
Me: Well done! I have kept up my Total Rosary Resolution, so today feels good. xxx
Bernie: Well done papa!!!
Me: How’s perfect week been? Review, learn, re-plan… xxx
Bernie: Perfect week was actually perfect till today… I’m going to do it again next week. But lesson learn – never ever drink finlandia vodka. I don’t know what it is about it but it makes me sooo sick have been celebrating friend’s birthday and had an amazing night out but today’s been hell, been so ill. Feeling better now though, off to Mass at the Cathedral! xxx
Me: Glad week went well and glad you are feeling better. Have another perfect week! (and watch out for the vodka!) xxx
So that feels like a fairly useful week! If we see the gift of life as one of the greatest gifts God gives us, then how we use, or waste, our time is a measure of our appreciation of that gift. So that’s this week’s challenge: how do we train our kids to make the best of this God-given asset?