I find brushing my teeth to be insanely boring… so dull in fact that I usually do it while going to the bathroom, this inconvenient habit I developed that really disrupts my day. I guess it is an inevitable consequence of the survival technique of eating and drinking I picked up. Sure, I like food and water as much as the next guy, but there is nothing more annoying the having to get up to go pee when you are in the middle of important things like texting. I wish we could just digest by having vapors pass through our pores. Avoid all that mess that leads to all the self-cleaning like showers, flossing, brushing hair, spreading of lotion… lame, lame, lame. The same thing everyday… over and over and over and over and over and over again.
It is often said that beauty is in repetition, but I don’t think who ever said that meant changing someone else’s poo. It is not that I don’t agree with this quasi Confucius mentality, for I understand that repetition is the strict parent of practice, and without continued practice you will never be excellent at anything. But so much of the repetition of life has nothing to do with the self-mastery of acquiring a skill. Most of the things we have to repeat in our everyday existence are centered around cleanliness and survival.
Now that I have a baby, I have to make sure she is clean and surviving too. And babies LOVE repetition! They thrive on it. Take for example, my doing “Paddy Cake” with her. Besides encouraging impatience, possessiveness, and gluttony, this song has complex movements that accompany the lyrics…. Like clapping and poking. Entertaining stuff I know. Now I could do Paddy Cake 100 times, and every single time, The Munch gets equally excited. No “Hey… Ummmm I think I am having serious déjà vu, because didn’t you just do this….” But rather “Oh wow! What is going to happen next! How long is this cake going to take? I can’t wait till it gets in the oven!”
Repetition doesn’t bore babies at all. They want their bathing, changing, eating, dressing, the putting to bed, to be the same… it makes them feel safe and comfortable in the world. In fact, if you try to change things up on them, they get distressed! As much as I try to explain to The Munch that the only constant in the universe is change, and change is an inescapable fact of life, she just grunts until I do things the same. She really isn’t that great of a listener…
But I had this realization that has brought peace to my angst. Even though I have to endure all this repetition, what is actually changing at an astronomical rate is how The Munch reacts to all this. Where once giving her a bath was a peaceful experience where she would calmly rest on her back and look into my eyes, now it is like trying to bath a greased pig. So maybe the beauty in repetition for me is that I should enjoy keeping the activities the same, because then I can really observe just how much she is changing.