We had all sat down at the table for supper tonight.... well, all of us except the littlest Peron. She had wriggled her arms into her little pink flannel hoodie and was wrestling with the zipper. I had tried a few times to help her; my husband had actually started the beginning of the zipper, despite her protests, but still she was having difficulty. Her screams were deafening. She wasn't just frustrated, she was ANGRY!
We invited her to come and eat. I told her that sometimes when I'm cranky, I'm really just hungry. She screamed in my face. Mark warned her that she'd have to have a time-out if she kept yelling at everyone. To which she responded by yelling some more. A high pitched shriek actually.
True to his word, my husband brought her up to her room for a short "break" while we sat at the table quietly eating our enchiladas listening to her muffled protests from behind her bedroom door.
I sighed with exhaustion. Cole kept eating his food. Mark and I discussed whether the problem was the sweater itself. Perhaps the best thing might be to throw it away. Had it caused this much trouble before? Sometimes parents will resort to almost anything to have a quiet meal.
Cole looked up and chirped, "It's not the sweater. She wants to be a big girl. She is frustrated because she can't do her zipper herself. She wants to practise-makes-perfect," he shovelled a forkful into his mouth and added again, "That's all. She wants to be a big girl."
Amelia returned to the table and once we'd given her some greek yogurt and told her it was sour cream to go with her enchilada, she was a brand new girl. The drama was over, but in the end, I didn't wish away the difficult zipper.
Every experience that is just a little bit too tricky, teaches us perseverance, patience and when to ask for help.
And seeing someone struggle can also teach the rest of us empathy. And that might be one of the best things my kids can ever learn.