My youngest son is 4 years old. He’s at the stage in his life where we’re trying to teach him to do many things on his own. But I’m not gonna lie. It’s been tough to say the least. He rebels and consistently fights back on doing almost anything on his own.
It started with me and my wife encouraging him to get his own milk from the refrigerator. I’m not talking about making him fill up his cup or anything like that. I’m simply talking about picking up his readily filled milk cup from the refrigerator and getting it himself.
The kid was as stubborn as he could possibly be. He flat out refused to do it. I would literally take the cup out of the fridge and put it maybe a foot away from him and would say “here, can you get it now?” and he would start crying because he wanted me to do it.
And it got to the point where there were all out mental battles. I’d just tell him “I’m not gonna get it” and he would literally scream out “get the cup!” over 100 times. These were absolute wars that I’d say he won 90% of the time.
As a parent you eventually just say “screw this” and get the damned cup even though you know you’re just encouraging your kids to repeat the same behavior and dependence on you. Even so, the relief is sometimes better than literal screaming for 20-30 minutes.
So you can imagine the joy I felt when he finally wiped his own tush.
A four month battle in the making
Four months. That’s how long it’s taken me and the wife to get this kid to wipe his own tushy. The kid just won’t do it. I don’t know why. I’ll never know why. I just know that every single time this kid has to go number 2, he’ll eventually cry out “I need help.” That means it’s time for one of us to go in there and help him wipe.
But for whatever reason, recently he actually agreed to wipe his own butt. Granted it’s on his terms. We cut a deal that he would wipe his own butt once, and then on the next one mommy or daddy would do it. Taking turns is fine with us. It’s better than nothing. Hopefully that turns into him becoming a full time wiper eventually.
That’s not the point however. The point is that I don’t think I’ve ever been happier or more relieved in the last 4 months than seeing my own son wipe his own tush for the first time. Isn’t that bizarre? I mean of all the things I could be happy about, my son using a piece of toilet paper to clean up his bottom is the thing I’m elated about most. Then again, maybe it’s not so bizarre.
Pay attention to what elicits happiness
As I look back on this momentous occasion it makes me think about my own life. It makes me go back to all of the things in my life that gave me a huge smile. And the one thing I have in common when it comes to particular events that brought me joy, few if any came from a “thing.” Most came from being with people.
Rarely did happiness exist for too long a period after I purchased something. Even on the day I made the most money in my career I was excited, but I don’t remember necessarily being happy. I was happier when I shared said news with my wife. On the day I touched down in Hawaii and stayed in an amazing hotel, I don’t remember being happy because of the hotel I was in. I remember being happy because I was on my honeymoon with my new wife.
The point is this. You don’t have to be like me. For all I know a fancy car and a nice house can elicit happiness in people. For me they’re amplifiers. I see nothing wrong in materialistic gains as long as they are realized as just that. They don’t necessarily bring happiness but they can amplify it.
What I’m trying to say here is that you need to pay attention to the things in your life that gave or give you a smile and continue going after those things. When you look back at those things, they’re likely to be that time you remember your friend spilling water out of their nose because they were laughing so hard. It might be a sunset that you watched from a cliff on a trip.
And if you’re me, it’s the first time your 4 year old son wiped his own tushy.
These little things may seem little, but they’re more important than anything when collectively put together.