Multi-tasking is a key to helping homes and families to survive.
This balancing act seems to be delegated to wives and mothers—unless it is some kind of latent œstrogen X-factor which surfaces within wives; to help them to meet the myriad challenges which come with the territory in a marriage.
Multi-tasking also includes two miraculous by-products. One of these is to disappear while their husbands are thinking about some fresh development in a conversation; while the other is—conversely—an ability to make items appear from thin air.
Items that have refused to register on male retinas.
But multi-tasking faces a huge challenge, which ironically rhymes with multi-tasking. This challenge is what I call multi-asking—the torrent of questions that children keep producing from about four years of age!
This torrent usually fades after they gain sufficient reading skills to start doing their own research, but some kids never grow out of tossing questions into any conversation with anyone.
Young Henry was one of those kids: a multi-asker; always wanting to know—and sometimes with an unnerving capacity to step back from personal involvement to becoming an impartial spectator.
One night, during his first school year, he called his dad into his room. It was quickly obvious that he had forgotten what he wanted to ask, but he was equal to the challenge. “In my mind there are lots of boxes,” he explained, “and the boxes are full of words. And my mind’s peepers are looking into all the boxes to find out what the words were!”
Another night, while retching from a gastric virus, he paused to ask, “Dad, how fast would this be travelling?”
What possible answer could there be for that?
When threatened with a penalty if he didn’t snap out of his misbehaviour, he countered, “Would that be worse than being held underwater by the feet?”
Young Henry loved asking questions, like:
“Is a vacuum cleaner a broom that swallows dirt?” (an interesting word, vacuum—for it’s hard to get uused to spelling it acuurately.)
“Could God make a stone that was so heavy that he couldn’t lift it?”
“Why don’t fish get electrocuted when lightning strikes the sea?”
All these questions paved the way into a world for Henry where minor details assumed major proportions. But this is not to suggest that objective detachment would make him check a suicide note for spelling mistakes before offering his help.
Henry’s love of detail came to the fore when he joined an art class, where his results could never be accused of being slipshod. However, the rigidity of his fascination was exposed when class members were asked to bring along their favourite pet and portray it on canvas.
The art tutor, having spent the entire evening offering hints and corrections as his charges struggled to capture their objects of devotion, finally came to stand behind Henry at his easel.
With arms crossed, he reached up to stroke his chin.
Then, slowly shaking his head, he said very quietly, “Henry, you have captured every hair perfectly, but you’ve lost the cat!”
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