We have a 2 1/2-year-old granddaughter visiting for a while with her parents. Keep in mind that this blended couple claims eleven children and twelve grandchildren, so having relatives visiting is a frequent joy.
This morning, the visiting toddler wanted to sit on my lap while I was reading the paper.
I welcomed her and told her I would teach her to read. Then I told her what to do when she saw a certain word. I pointed to a headline with the first word, “Trump” and told her to “boo” when I said it.
I may have her trained.
OK, that probably wasn’t nice. Especially to my “anyone but Hillary” husband.
I am fascinated today that Donald is planning a serious reboot in his campaign. Am not fascinated by the need for the reboot, but by an intriguing paradox. If Donald indeed becomes what the political operatives need him to be (on message, reasonable, etc), he will lose his core audience: the angry, fearful white male who have made his campaign rallies look like this:
Truth: I awaken each morning wondering what outrageous thing Donald said the day before.
Deeper truth: I ache for him and his family. He appears to be having an oh-so-public mental breakdown.
Deeper truth even than that: with a toddler temporarily in the house, I am ever more aware of the need to teach children (and adults) boundaries and personal mastery. We read in the Bible that the “fruits of the Spirit”, i.e., the evidence of a life that is being forever changed by being fully reconciled to God, are: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”
Personal mastery: the ability to regulate our emotions, our words, our thoughts and our responses to a world that can often be hostile or at least indifferent to us and our perceived needs.
Last night, our loveable little tyrant didn’t want to stay in bed. Channeling my inner “Nanny McPhee” (we were actually watching the movie together!), I offered to be the one to deal with this.
It was a long session. I did not ask her to stop crying but insisted she stay on the bed. She was alternately angry, demanding and grief-stricken. I sat patiently with her, kept my voice quiet and soothing, encouraged her to let out her anguish, but did not give an inch to the boundary I insisted she observe.
And then . . . well it was truly magical. She quieted herself, gathered around her the beloved sleeping and comfort objects, settled herself on the bed and nodded sweetly when I asked if she wanted me to cover her and her dolls.
Then she said it was time for me to leave and also asked me to leave the light on. I got up, she waved a gentle “good-bye” to me, and shortly after went to sleep.
This morning, she ran to me and greeted me with radiant joy.
That’s what personal mastery is about. That’s what Donald, so far, appears to lack. That would be a sad, dangerous leader for our country.
And yes, I stay aware that Hillary, despite a real bounce upward in the polls, still remains pretty intensely disliked and distrusted. And I still think that much of that rises from a less-spoken but terribly real sexism that underlies our society. A man would be praised for doing what she has done.