Something happened this morning that, for the first time, made me really feel I’ve “arrived” as a parent. I know this is a silly thing to say, but it was a big deal for me: that moment when you see that your patience and constant direction and redirection is starting to take form organically in your child’s behavior.
I am probably oversimplifying this phenomenon with my example. He is not even two yet, so there will probably be many more significant events in his life that will cause me to feel this way, but something about even this most basic situation this morning, to me, felt big.
So I mentioned K is almost two, right? Along with that comes some fairly rowdy behavior that occasionally requires some corralling. This morning, he had found a giant mason jar still half-full of water sitting on the coffee table. He does what any toddler would do: picks up the jar, starts trying to drink the water, then immediately realizes it would be exponentially more fun to fling the water all over the living room. Hearing his maniacal shrieks of laughter, I enter the room just in time for the finale, in which he flings the jar up over his head.
Now, I am well aware that it is just water, so no real damage is done. But I still have to do something about the action, even if inside I think it is hysterical and I’m trying not to laugh (it is no longer funny when, for example, there is coffee in that cup). I quietly ask him if it is okay to fling water; he looks at me, pauses for a moment, and shakes his head no. So I ask him to put the glass back on the table, and tell him that he needs to go to his room.
I haven’t done this before, so I am not sure what will happen. He looks at me, and without protest, picks up the cup and places it on the table, then walks to his room and proceeds to play quietly in there by himself for 15 minutes before asking to come back out.
Wow, I thought. That was really awesome!
The funny thing about that situation is as soon as he was in his room playing by himself, I started wondering if that really had just happened. At this point, I have now spent years being someone’s parent, but have not been able to “watch” my parenting work in that kind of way. It was something. It also helps that my child has a wonderful temperament (most of the time!).
Am I oversimplifying? Possibly. But it was still very humbling to have an arrival moment as a parent: that moment when you realize that what you are doing is actually doing something.