Things My Daughter Taught Me: On Being Frustrated

It is a busy time of year. We try to use my daughter’s nap time to get a lot of stuff done; shopping (just one of us at a time, of course), paying bills, addressing holiday cards, wrapping presents, cleaning, etc.

This past weekend, Sunday was the day my daughter decided would be a good day to skip a nap. We managed to get some stuff done as she sat in her crib and played and talked to her stuffed animals for over an hour and a half. But it wasn’t enough.

When Ms. Kaz got my daughter out of her bedroom and brought her downstairs, my daughter came over to where I was paying bills. I was, as my daughter would say, “a little frustrated” with her. I was probably a bit curt in my answers to her questions. When she started to look through the envelopes with the paid bills, I said, “don’t play with those!”

At which point my daughter ran in the other room and started crying to my wife. When Ms. Kaz asked what was wrong, my daughter said, “daddy said not to touch the bills!”

My daughter could pick up on the fact that I was “frustrated.” One thing I’ve learned is that she is very good at picking up on our emotions. And she has learned that she really doesn’t like when we are mad.

And it made me feel a little bit sad. Not because I felt that I should never be angry with her. There are plenty of times I should. But this was just a skipped nap. It wasn’t as if she ran into the street, or strangled the cat.

It is, to me, (a) amazing that kids, at a very early age, can register adult emotions so well, and (b) difficult to remember this.

I can remember when my nephew, now 17, was very young. Probably under 2 years old. And I, being much younger, and less wise, said something a little insensitive about him at the dinner table. He began crying, and my sister scolded me, telling me that he has feelings, too. It amazed me at the time that he picked up on it. And it made me feel a little bad about it. It obviously made a lasting impression on me.

I’m not sure what I am really getting at here, other than the fact that my daughter is growing up fast. Things we used to be able to get away with in front of  her, we no longer can. I just hope it is quite a while before she learns to spell. Otherwise, Ms. Kaz and I will have to learn another language to speak in front of my daughter of such things as S-A-N-T-A and D-I-S-N-E-Y W-O-R-L-D, and I-C-E C-R-E-A-M.


One Response to Things My Daughter Taught Me: On Being Frustrated

  1. She’ll just learn that language too.

    My dog has gotten to the point where he understands P-A-R-K, B-I-S-C-U-I-T, and R-I-D-E when spelled out.

    If a dog can do that, imagine what it’ll take to outwit a child.

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