March 2

The Blue Ball

March 2, 2018

Parenting

Years ago a friend told me a story of visiting the home of my daughter Janette, who at the time lived near Phoenix, Arizona. Bruce was two, and his older sister was playing with a blue ball.

“Want blue ball!’ Bruce demanded.

“How about this other blue ball, Bruce?” Janette suggested. “Would you like to play with this one?"

"NO!" The crying begins.

"What about this orange ball?"

"NO!"

"How about the monsters ball? Do you want this one?"

"NO! Want blue ball!"

Ah, the life of a two-year-old. No other ball is quite good enough, mom. To her credit, she scans the area, undeterred, scoping for any other potential distractions.

After trying unsuccessfully to hand him the monster ball, his three-year-old sister quietly hands him the prized blue ball. All this has happened within the span of 30 seconds, with no pressure from any adult.

Bruce, still sure hyped up about getting this one ball, immediately pushes it out of his face and yells "no!" once more before realizing that he was being given the ball he wanted. Composing himself, he scampers over to retrieve it.

"Tanks, Sylvie."

By now my jaw is flapping in the wind. No adult intervention, just freely-given kindness from a three-year-old.

"Sylvie that was very kind of you," Janette notes, as if it were the most casual thing in the world. Somehow I knew—as did Sylvie—that her mother was not complimenting her, only describing her behavior, so she could more firmly identify it for what it was.

My friend says she lives in Arizona, her address is in Arizona, but when I step in the house, I'm sure it's another planet. Where else could you find toddlers behaving this way? Sharing without being forced? Saying 'thank you' without being told?

Bruce throws his coveted ball over the fence and begins crying once more.
"Bruce,” Janette says, “want to go get your shoes from inside and then go get the ball?" Mom is not the least frustrated.

His face lights up. Done and done. Tiny legs run inside, tiny hands put tiny blue crocs on tiny feet. Mom opens the fence and voila! Bruce has his blue ball once more. Victory. The two-year- old probably has a better grasp of being responsible for his happiness than I do.

The secret? No voodoo magic. Just love.

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