Playground Perspectives: Making Progress

I've come to realize that part of being two years old is the constant tension between discovery and instinct, impulse and control.

Or maybe that's part of being the father of a two-year-old.

Thea loves to pet and hug Rilo, our Bernese Mountain Beagle; Rilo loves to avoid Thea.

One day last month, Thea was trying to pet the dog, and was growing frustrated because Rilo kept moving away from her. The harder she tried, the more frustrated she became.

Soon enough, she was hitting Rilo. Not for the first time that day, either.

Frustrated, I sat her down. I asked her if it was okay to hit.

"No hit Rilo. No hit Harvey Sarvay. No hit Simon," she said, including our two cats in her moment of penance.

She looked down at her hands and furrowed her brow. "Only gentle pets," she continued.

She paused. She looked up at me earnestly. "Dad," she said, "I'm working on it."

Nikole and I both were so startled by that adult-like curveball that we flat burst out laughing.

From the mouths of babes, right?

The fact of the matter is that we're all working on it, every single day.

Sometimes sitting down with other people to talk, and to listen, helps us recognize that they're working on it, too. When we replace judgment with patience, and punishment with support, their work becomes easier - for everyone.

Last week, Rilo was laying on the rug. Thea quietly walked over, gently rested her head on Rilo's side and wrapped her arms around the dog's neck.

"Rilo," she said, "I love you so much."

We're all working on it. Given time, support and direction, we can all make progress.