Read other entries:
Last wk Jul 28 Jul 30 Jul 31 Aug 1 Aug 2 Aug 3 Next wk

August 1, 2002 - Thursday
It's really amazing the power that parents have over young children. It's obvious, on the one hand, but I've thought about that a lot lately, not with any sense of strength, or pride, or pleasure, but rather with the weight of knowing that what I do, the actions that I take, the manner in which I praise or chastise the boys can have a dramatic affect on their young minds. For example, I've certainly noticed before how getting mad at Harry can set in motion a string of profound reactions. It often doesn't happen immediately, and that can add to parental frustration, but within an hour or so, Harry will make a clear effort to mend any figurative fences. He'll ask me to read a book and refuse it if mommy steps into what might have seemed like a general request for a story. Or, perhaps he'll be particularly sweet to Jeremy in my plan view. Our affection is paramount and that losing that, even temporarily, can be as strong as traumatic. His only possible responses are to mend or to become dumb to it. It is a heavy weight, indeed.

This morning was a bit hectic with the two boys. It was not a particularly bad morning, but I was a little tired and the boys (I still wonder about how directly related the cause and effect are) where both a little robust and silly. I left Jeremy in the master bedroom as I took Harry to brush his teeth and that meant running from Harry's bathroom over to the bedroom doorway a couple of times during the brushing just to make sure Jeremy was nowhere near the one or two potential problem areas of our room (mainly a table lamp). I've handled those logistics before without stress, but this morning Harry was fooling around a little more than usual with the tooth brush and Jeremy was moving around a bit more quickly.

"Harry, that's not good brushing," I said disappointedly. I added a couple more such phrases as I bounced between the two doorways, but Harry did not respond with better brushing and Jeremy did not stay with the toys that were in front of him. Then, since Harry had been brushing long enough, albeit not very thoroughly, I decided to take the brush from his hand, clean him up, and bring him back to the bedroom and Jeremy. I didn't do it particularly angrily, at least I didn't think so, but I was impatient and rationalized that the surprise might show that I wasn't pleased about him fooling around. Heck, maybe it might make him brush better next time.

I miscalculated.

It came out of nowhere to me, but as we went back toward Jeremy, Harry started saying he "did want to brush his teeth." He's just fooling around some more, I thought, but he became more adamant. Then, once back to where I could see Jeremy I said, "fine, go back and brush more it you want." And, he did.

When I go back to the bathroom, again leaving Jeremy behind, there is Harry standing back on his bathroom step stool aggressively brushing with great attention to the parental toothbrushing advice that I had thought was ignored all these many mornings and nights. And there, on his cheek, along side the beads of sweat which often emerge on and near Harry's nose when he runs around in the mornings was, I believe, I tear. My goodness, I really wasn't that mad about it. Oh, Harry. He really is, and does try to be, a good conscientious boy much of the time. When he finished this time, it was I who was mending the figurative fences.

Comments, Opinions?