I heard it told once that a person hasn’t experienced agony until they’ve had to sit and wait for a toddler to do something by themselves. From the point-of-view of a non-parent or a parent of older kids who has forgotten what it’s like to have a toddler, that statement probably seems extremely melodramatic, but I’m convinced that it’s one of the great truths of life. There is just something so teeth-grittingly frustrating about standing and watching a toddler try to zip up her coat when you’ve been ready to go for five minutes, or sitting and squeezing your steering wheel while they fumble with their seat belt in the back of the car.
Of course, sometimes you’ll snap and yank the zipper up yourself, or leap out of the car to slam their belt in place before the scream escapes your throat, but you can’t just be doing that all the time. This is a growing child, after all, and they have to learn, or else one day you’re going to find that you’ve raised a pathetic little ball of jelly that refuses to do anything for him- or herself.
But sometimes it’s so hard.
I don’t consider myself to be a control freak by a long shot, but there’s something about watching a kid fumble with a toy that makes me twitch like you wouldn’t believe. It’s such a foolish thing to let yourself get worked up over, but when I watch my daughter struggle to fit two tiny Lego pieces together or push the Play Doh mold hard enough to actually create the intended shape, it makes my eye attempt to escape its socket. And the one that gets me the worst? That’s definitely when we’re playing a board game that involves a spinner and she consistently hits it in such a way that it doesn’t spin so much as shudder half an inch to one side. I can’t even describe the way that makes my teeth ache. Of course, never are all these things made more evident to myelf as right after Christmas when there are a whole bunch of new toys to obsess over. As of the writing of this post I’ve spent half the day playing with both Lego blocks and Play Doh sets, and my psyche barely withstood it.
But then, on the other hand, there’s absolutely something amazing to be said for just curling up on the floor with your kid and building multi-colored castles (with no doors or windows) and molding squishy-looking neon-colored cupcakes. Every single moment of the experience may not be relaxing, and there will definitely be a few instances that make you want to crack your head on the hardwood, but it’s quality time that a lot of people, unfortunately, don’t bother to experience with their children. Plus, if you can put away that parental mentality for a little while and train yourself to ignore those teeth-gritting moments, you can actually have a bit of childish fun yourself, free from the boring, hard-working world of the adult.
So I’ll keep doing it. I’ll keep closing my eyes or looking away when my daughter drops that Lego piece for the eighteenth time, and I’ll wait patiently with bated breath while it takes her ten minutes to pick all the little bits of Play Doh “frosting” out of the icing mold, because if you can just look past the agonizing moments all of the other moments are pure gold. And I wouldn’t trade them for anything, even if my eye twitches right out of my head.