July 2, 2004


These thoughts go through my head sometimes when I put the kid down to sleep: "I know you're tired, I can tell. Don't fight it. If I just brush this flannel cloth over your cheek, you'll grab it, snuggle up to it. Your eyelids are getting heavy..." And then I stop myself: "I'm a selfish manipulative dope, a control freak, pushing your buttons and programming you off to sleep so I can finally get something done."

Am I working some power trip because I'd rather not deal, or am I just able now to recognize some of the precursors to the kid's state of being, and thus, deal with them slightly better? Being a fairly religious guy, this train of thought veers quickly to the theological.

What's the difference between omnipotence an omniscience? Does my foreknowledge mean the kid lacks free will? Is she predestined to fall asleep? And if so, what else is she predestined for? to run off with some carnie folk when she's 14? [In any case, usually, she does go to sleep, then I go watch the Daily Show and everything's back to normal.]

Just now, I was reading a letter from Sophia Hawthorne (Nathaniel's wife) in the preface to Twenty Days with Julian and Little Bunny by Papa. (The perfect Father's Day gift, thank you, ladies.) She was explaining their childrearing philosophy to her somewhat disapproving mother: "...Infinite patience, infinite tenderness, infinite magnanimity,--no less will do, and we must practise them as far as finite power will allow. Above all, no parent should feel a pride of power [not my emphasis]..."

But by then the Daily Show's on, so I snap out of it.

1 Comment

The first time you find your child standing on the dining room table or she throws her french fries at you or tells you (at the age of 4!) that she's moving out because there are no cookies in the house or touches your cheek and says she loves you -- you'll realize just how little control you really have.

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