a bright light at the end of a very loooooong tunnel

Last night, as she was getting changed into her pajamas, the Bee had trouble closing a drawer on her dresser. She calmly re-opened it, pushed down the clothes that were sticking out, and closed it. She didn’t get frustrated. She didn’t hit the drawer, or call it stupid, or vent her anger on it in any way. She just saw a problem, saw the solution, and fixed it, calmly and unemotionally.

It was one of those rewarding moments that made me realize how much she is growing up, and also how incredibly long that process takes. I almost wanted to thank her for closing the drawer calmly, though it seemed slightly ridiculous to thank her for something any adult would do automatically.

For every parent out there who is struggling with a willful toddler or preschooler (and we’ve got one of those in our house), let me tell you that your efforts to teach them peaceful ways will pay off. Metrodad wrote recently about his daughter’s transformation into a diva, and I know that others in the blogosphere are struggling with the heady demands of a little person who suddenly needs everything to be done in a certain way (chichimama, I’m looking your way). Last week, I opened the wrong door of the Potato’s daycare, and he threw such a hissy fit that I had to carry him to the car.

It’s taken seven years to make the Bee into a person who won’t scream with frustration at every snag in life. Frankly, it’s a process that’s not over yet, and I’m sure I’m jinxing myself by even mentioning it here. Tonight, there will probably be a meltdown over the fact that her socks are inside out, or something equally ridiculous.

I haven’t done anything important in my adult life for seven years except stay married to the same guy–no job has lasted that long, I haven’t lived in one place for that long, I haven’t held office in an organization–nothing. There’s nothing else I do in life that takes so long to show results, be they good or bad. When do you actually know that you did a good job as a parent? When your kid gets into college? When she gets married? Makes a million dollars? Have kids of their own? Discovers a cure for cancer? Can you ever really be sure?

It’s an unearthly feeling, to know that you might never know the answer to that most important question. You have to find clues wherever you can, and take on faith that those clues are adding up to something bigger. The Bee’s drawer-closing incident was more than just a drawer to me–it was a clue that landisdad and I might actually be doing something right.

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November 14, 2006. growing up.

11 Comments

  1. chichimama replied:

    There is light? Really???? Oh, I so help you are right.

  2. Michelle replied:

    Hey, she’s better than me, I tend to have no patience with inanimate objects when they don’t work for me.

  3. Suzanne replied:

    I can definitely appreciate this as a milestone. I’ve been wondering about Allie’s ability to gracefully handle curveballs — today she was in a puddle of tears because her playdough wasn’t responding the way she wanted it to. When I said, “I can see you’re angry about this, how can I help?” she responded, “I’m NOT angry! I’m FRUSTRATED!”

    I’m hoping there’s a calmly closed dresser drawer in her future some day.

    Oh, and I’m sure you are doing a great job, even if the job evaluation form won’t be completed for another 12 years or so.

  4. Jennifer (ponderosa) replied:

    My sister-in-law is just 6 years older than me but her kids are in their early 20s. Yeah, she had them early. Anyway, I don’t think she ever thought, “I’ve done a good job.” It was just that, once they were in college, she stopped worrying about it!

    What I will be happy for is this: one single week in which neither child clings to me and cries because I am leaving them at daycare/preschool or whatever. For goodness sake! Sasha has been in daycare for months. Blake has been in daycare for years. Get over it, kids!

  5. Anjali replied:

    Beautiful post! I had to laugh, too, because I sometimes feel we’re eons away from a calm drawer-closing incident.

  6. alala replied:

    Yay! Man, kids and their problems seem so intractable, and then one day, poof! Not poof-it’s-gone, but poof, I can actually see how one day it might possibly be. I love, love, love those moments.

    I don’t think it’s ridiculous, though, to thank her for keeping her temper. I praise Ignatz when he remembers something. I figure, I sigh and roll my eyes when he forgets (although I’m trying really hard to stop that), so he surely deserves positive feedback – a lot of it – when he does right.

  7. Kate the Shrew replied:

    I’m so happy to hear that there’s a light, and that it might not be the oncoming train!

    I try really hard to praise Queen B when she’s being calm, not only for her sake, but for my own. A lot of days I go to bed feeling like all I’ve said is “no”, so it’s nice to get a break from it.

  8. Lady M replied:

    Beautiful post, thank you!

  9. Mary Tsao replied:

    Congratulations! I will take my hope from you.

  10. “you are the meanest person” « Bumblebee Sweet Potato replied:

    […] The Potato is in a very challenging phase right now. While the Bee has begun moving into a more mature phase, the Potato has jumped headfirst into a bout of ‘no,’ ‘why?’ and outright defiance. […]

  11. Tracey replied:

    Amen to that, sister. We have to seek out glimpses of our parenting progress in all these little moments.

    sounds like you’re doing OK – which I hope means that I am, too (because I have two willful 6-year-olds, one of whom sounds suspiciously like the Bee in her low tolerance for frustration….

    Tracey

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