Sweet spots.

There are several as a parent.

The first example is the period when your child can finally talk.

For the first year or so, the child cries and you have no idea why. It’s frustrating for both parties.

You stuff a bottle in the poor kid’s mouth and in reality he’s got an ear ache. You gently pat her back because you think she’s got gas and it’s really she’s hungry again.

Then for a sweet year or so, the child can talk in clipped sentences.

“My tummy hurts.”

“I am hungry.”

“Daddy watch too much sports on TV.”

That’s the sweet spot for talking. Before the child breaks into the kind of wailing that every dog in the neighborhood can hear, she can pinpoint the problem so it can be addressed.

All good sweet spots must come to pass, however.

After this informative, helpful phase, they start to talk back, to whine about everything, and the sweet spot is over.

Another sweet spot, sort of, is for moving.

At first, your little bundle of joy is nothing more than a large sack of wiggling flour which must be carted around everywhere. You want to run to the store, it’s a 20-minute ordeal to find the car seat, strap the child in and go. If it’s winter and the child needs bundled up, forget about it, it’s a half day.

(The upside to this is at least you know where the child is).

Then, around age 2, the moving sweet spot arrives. The child can now walk itself from one room to the next. She can hold your hand and you can walk her to the car.

Sure, the movement isn’t exactly coordinated. It’s more a reminder of your college days from coming home from the bar, but at least you don’t have to lug them around.

As a parent, your back hurts less and you suddenly have 20 extra minutes sometimes multiple times a day.

Sadly, the sweet spot ends when the child can move to the point where he can suddenly operate not only his legs, but the darn door handles.

Next thing you know, the neighbor is coming over with your naked son, requesting he be kept on his own property.

Geesh, the nerve of the guy.

The most recent example of a parental sweet spot is the age of reasoning.

If you’ve ever tried to reason with a sack of flour, you know what the outcome is.

But about the time the child can learn to talk, a good parent can impose their will by just saying “because I told you so.”

Like a good soldier and sycophant, the child will follow directions because they see the parent as some sort of omnipotent figure.

This is the stage where the child will jump off a cliff just because they are told to, which is why it is critical that most parents live nowhere near a cliff.

Sadly, this sweet spot is short lived.

Unless you are my sister, your omnipotence in the eyes of your children fades.

But there is a sweet spot of reasoning in which the child can figure things out by himself or herself.

This is what I refer to as “touching the hot stove phase,” which thankfully rarely involves touching a hot stove.

The child can figure things out, like pulling the dog’s tail is not a great idea. Or running down steps can be dangerous.

And like all sweet spots, this phase comes to an end.

The child begins to question certain directives.

“I no eat vegetables.”

“I no take naps.”

“I no leave you alone for peace and quiet.”

That sort of thing.

Then the parent has the added responsibility of having to justify those orders which only weeks ago were blindly followed like the kid had signed up for the Jim Jones Kool-Aid club.

As the child ages, the reasoning “because I said so” begins to carry less and less weight.

By the time your child is a teen, they can swat aside “because I said so” like Babe Ruth.

Even worse, the teen years hit.

It’s the most frustrating phase, in my experience, when children who are teens are quite capable of reason choose not to use this ability.

After years of stellar upbringing, they decide to go their own way. It’s like Superman having the ability to fly but choosing not to do so.

They do dumb things, like miss curfews. And for what?

For what good reason?

There isn’t one.

There just isn’t any reasoning.

I miss the sweet spots.

All of them.

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