Act and React

Dear J-

They removed Calcifer from a gymnastics class he was in yesterday, saying he was being disruptive and … well, yeah, that’s how he is nowadays. He gets comfortable with you and thinks he won’t get in trouble. I’m not sure how to change his grip on that reality, strong as it is with all kinds of poor anti-social behavior. On the other hand he is three and not the best listener in the world, either, so that’s got a lot to do with it. How much should we be expecting, after all? There’s only so much and nothing more, perhaps: three and he knows it. There is only so much you can do, but if he was upset that he had to leave perhaps next time he won’t take things quite so much for granted. Then again, he’s three.

Three explains a lot. It’s not as if your terrible twos all of a sudden turn into terrific threes overnight; in our case we find ourselves with kids who insist on challenging you every step along the way, so let me know when I can expect fantastic fours and fives, sensational sixes and sevens, excellent eights. I’m waiting. I suppose they get their cues from us: how they act, how they react to the world, how little frustrations can be amusing at first and then a source of deep angst. I spent a couple of hours last night not working on anything but just seething with rage at a poorly-designed (it’s the tool’s fault, not the user, right?) lock cylinder follower getting stuck at an inopportune time and dumping all the top pins out of a tumbler lock. This is the legacy you leave.

It’s a wonderfully optimistic thing: if you want your kids to be better people, first you have to work on your own aplomb and equanimity. Physician, heal thyself; parent, grow up first. We’ll get there sooner or later. How soon the strange becomes familiar! If you make the choice to be better, to let your mind intervene before your mouth can act, how much better would it be? Which is stronger, action or reaction? The choice is yours.



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