Hello, My name is Paul. I believe that there are moments in our life and experiences we have that shape who we are and the type of parent we’d like to be/become. In order to to tell you my story, and why I feel juggling is an important life skill to pass on to my children it is necessary to take you on a journey into my past.
Way back in the land before time…
It is 1993 and I’m attending Red Deer College.
Instructor Larry Reese walks into Studio A and says to us,
“Today, you will learn how to juggle”.
Not all of us can track back into our memories and define those pinnacle moments when your life took on a whole new direction. In our youth these events were often much more transitory and tended to blend together. (I cannot remember the second half of grade 12, but neither can the rest of my party buddies.) But for me, that class with Larry is one of them. Meeting my future wife in the lobby of the Pantages Playhouse in Winnipeg is another. The most recent was just over 10 years ago, on the day my first child was born.
I was physically and emotionally present for the extraction of both my kidlets, as a hand-crushee. Men, we are damn lucky that WE DON’T HAVE TO DO THAT! Ladies, you are amazing…seriously, unreal. Take a bow, along with my undying gratitude and respect.
I have a vivid memory of walking through the hospital corridors holding a blanket swaddled 8lb 4oz pink blob in my arms and sensing its weight. The unhindered thought popped into my head, “You know, if I had three of these…maybe I could juggle them.” (After the second child my wife said, “If you want any more kids YOU are having them”. We stopped at two.)
Little did I realize how closely related juggling and Fatherhood would be.
Thinking back to Larry’s words to the class, “Today, you will learn how to juggle” I later realized
he didn’t say “I will teach you”, he said “Today, you will learn…”
His wording, as much as the actual skill of juggling, has influenced my life greatly.
As adults we choose what to juggle, where to juggle, how often to juggle, who to juggle for, who to juggle with, and most importantly WHY we juggle.
People often refer to this as “mutli-tasking” but I feel that phrase is heavily overused. Science tells us that we don’t really do more than one thing at once, we actually rapidly switch between things and do them one at a time. This is an important distinction to make because in juggling, unlike multi-tasking, yhou are really are doing more than one thing at a time. You are causing three different items/tasks/emotions/choices to all move together in a pattern of your choosing.
As an adult I’ve continued to juggle, performing professionally while tossing knives, torches and various other props into the air. (and often catching them.) I’ve also learned to juggle my emotions, the use of my time and each and every choice that arises. In addition to juggling I have also developed my sense of balance. Physically, as well as emotionally and mentally.
Yes, we all make mistakes. It’s part of trying and learning.
Practice doesn’t always make perfect, but it does make it easier, and often better, the next time. Yes, Sometimes you drop (Gravity is good. Without gravity many of us would get tummy flip-flops just watching T.V.) a ‘thing’. (As long as the ‘thing’ isn’t a child/live animal, and/or no-one in a position of authority is watching.) The trick is how soon you pick it back up and what you do with it next.
We’ve now spent just over 10 years helping our kids to ‘juggle’. (To my chagrin, they have absolutely zero interest in actual juggling…le sigh.) Not by telling them what to juggle but showing them how to choose what to juggle.
My oldest daughter has already decided to limit her extra-curricular activities during the 2012/2013 school year based on how much homework (which she is not a fan of) she expects to be dealing with next year.
She has adjusted her balance so she can continue to juggle with what she feels is a more important commitment, her schooling.
As her parents we did not tell her she had to cut things back, nor did we recommend this as an option. She did this on her own. She is going into Grade 5.
Our house has a rather free-flow structure. Outside of school and extra-curriculars we do not control the kids time. They can do pretty much whatever they enjoy. There is naturally chores to do but they have learned that if they want to do a family movie night then they need to have them done along with getting their homework done early.
They have the freedom to juggle their own schedule as long as they aren’t dropping the ball (so to speak) on their other responsibilities.
Empowering them to make good juggling decisions while not being critical of the juggling choices of others has worked for our family and is preparing my children to be more independent and ready to make more of these choices as adults.
CAVEAT: I would not be a husband, father nor the man I am today without the love and support of my stunning wife Elizabeth and my two amazing children, The Izzy-Bee and Gemmatron3000.
My name is Paul and I am a professional Juggler, Husband and Father. Sure, some family gigs are paid in kisses, super-hugs and an ear-whispered “I love you Daddy” but I can deal with that.
You can hire me to juggle and tell jokes for you via: PaulWallace.com
Check out a 9 year old video of me giving birth to myself at: 2001: A Birth Odyssey
I also make yoyo string. Yes, you read that right. More info at: yoyoGstring.com
I am also on twitter…because, you know…it’s fun: @pau1wa11ace
NextGen Speaks Out, our guest blogging series, is envisioned as a hub for information and discussion. NextGen is a non-political, non-denominational organization focused on giving all nextgeners a voice. NextGen does not represent the opinions expressed by the individual columnists.