Can you hear that? It’s a slow and steady, if not circumspect, release of air. A pressure release, for the first time in like, forever. For the first time since before I became a parent, in fact. (When Cielo was born, Trump had already been in office for eight months.)
I may not be ready to ahhhh exhale, but I can feel a making of space for other things—other things besides outrage and anxiety and uncertainty. Being a Dad under an ever-darkening sky of national discord and chaos has been a challenge I never imagined I would face as I made plans to create a family and raise a Jewish Latino boy, in New York City, in the new millennium.
And now, thankfully, those clouds appear to be thinning.
I have prayed—PUH-RAYYYED—for news of a new administration and with it, news of an election that would demonstrate an abject rejection of all of Trump’s isms. We did get a new President (like!) and Vice President (love!), but still, there was no landslide rebuke of the bigotry that continues to threaten not only me and my family, but also millions of others. Counting my blessings, nonetheless.
I am clear. It is clear. Now is the time for us to step forward, to appreciate change (whatever that may mean for you) and build on it. In this reminder that things can always shift—even when they seem intractably awful—I am inspired. As a citizen, as a grownup, and as a parent, the energy to progress, improve, refine can be fueled by the inevitability of transition. We can count on making things better because things, by definition, can and always will change.
Any caregiver can attest to moments or phases with our children that seem immutable, almost indelible. A child never sleeps through the night—until he does. Another child only ever leaves home with her stuffed animal—until that day she leaves it behind. I remember thinking that our son would always run after me, into the bathroom, to stand there while I peed, waiting for me to let him flush the toilet so he could listen to the whoosh. And yet, today, he no longer follows. Things seem forever, until they become something else.
They say that art imitates life. I say, politicians imitate toddlers.
This past year, Cielo, like so many of his preschool peers, relied heavily on tantrums and tears to try and get his way. Fire up that frustration fuse, and Cielo would short circuit. He didn’t want rationale or compromise. He wanted what he wanted—hostages taken and collateral damaged.
I often felt resigned. Ok, this is it: the tantrums are just part of life. And they will always be a part of life. I need to develop some strategies, but more than anything, I need to suck it up.
And then, things shifted.
No kidding. In the weeks leading into the election, Cielo began to leave tantrums behind. In what seems like a referendum on reasoning, he now responds to challenge or dissent with this winning, bipartisan phrase: How about we make a plan? … I’ve got a really good idea.
“Zoo or playground, Cielo?” I asked this Sunday.
“Daddy, how about we make a plan to go the zoo … and then we make a plan to go to the playground. It’s a really good idea,” Cielo answered.
Just like that, unyielding has yielded to accommodation. Digging in has given over to dealing. It’s a joy and a surprise to witness. It feels like a new era in compassionate cooperation is upon us. And it’s time to live in this moment. Amen.
Great Parents make great kids
That kid! I love these glimpses into his development.