Ainsley at meal times is a sight to behold. She is determined to master the use of utensils. She holds her Winnie-the-Pooh spoon rock steady and then picks up her chicken in her chubby fingers and carefully deposits a bite on the spoon. Down the hatch it goes!
When we pull into the driveway, she yells, "I do da keys! I do da keys."
She toddles to the front door and wrestles with the keys until -- Woila!, as John is want to say -- she turns the key.
For a pseudo-type A mother who is perpetually in a hurry, all this requires patience. Because the point of it all is To Eat the Dinner! or To Get into the House! On to the next task at hand.
For toddlers the process is the task at hand.
A year or so ago, my friend Janet shared a word of encouragement with my prayer group: Let your effort be your goal. That concept is at odds with both my personality and with the way we as a society measure success. We don't care so much about efforts; we demand results -- of ourselves, of our co-workers, of our children.
Two-year-olds do not struggle to live in the now. They generally shun To Do Lists. They let their effort be their goal.
A while ago, I walked through the toy aisle at Walmart and spotted A Barrel Full of Monkeys. Remember that game? I went all nostalgic and bought it. I brought it home, opened it up, and dumped the monkeys out.
My ten-year-old was unimpressed.
So you dump the monkeys out, pick them up, and dump them out again? And the point is??
His take on this classic game of eye-hand coordination reminded me of my Dad's stories from basic training.
Hey, you! You see that pile of rocks over here? I want it moved over there!
Blowing bubbles, stomping in mud puddles, building towers with blocks and knocking them back down, finger painting -- all of us (including my ten-year-old and his mother) could take a lesson from a toddler and let our effort be our goal.
(The friend I mentioned -- Janet -- has a new blog! Visit here.)