exerting control

Why is he torturing himself like this? The heat is unbearable, and the walk to the pool is even worse. The pavement seems to act like a sun dish and radiate the hot rays directly to our bodies. And my four year old is walking …..ever ……so ……slowly.

I understand he does not take his usual pace of sprinting in this weather, but why prolong the pain? Once we get to the pool, which is a mere five blocks from our home, relief will wash over us.

I am sure to point this out to him in the most logical way that I can. He seems to move even more lethargically and I realize what I said had the opposite effect I was going for.

The same scenario played out yesterday. He wants to be carried the five blocks in the grueling heat and I tell him that is not possible at the moment.

So he determines to punish us all by walking ….as …..slowly …..as …..he …..possibly ….can. Yesterday his ploy worked. But today I figured out a different strategy of waiting for him at each shady spot I come to, and I am simply not all that worked up about it.

He is clearly causing himself more discomfort than any of the rest of us. I point out how he is punishing himself and the common sense does not seem to get through.

In that moment part of me wants to fly off the handle and scream at him because I just want to get to that cool water so badly. But fortunately today there is another part of me kicking in.

And that part realizes that sometimes, we all have a need to exert what little control we have in this world if for no other reason than to remind ourselves we have it. Even four year olds.

Because let’s face it, we humans are a controlling bunch. And no wonder. We cannot control the weather (don’t I wish!), we cannot control the passage of time, and as I have mentioned before, we cannot control the one thing we want the most in this life: love.

So we grasp at another thing we cannot control. One another. And we live in the illusion we can control the people around us because it gives us comfort. But when it comes down to it, no matter what forms of force or manipulation we implement, we do not get to make other people’s choices for them.

And as I swelter on the way to the pool it occurs to me that I have a choice to make. I can attempt to change my son’s choice to walk at a snail’s pace to the oasis awaiting us. Or I can recognize that he is asserting himself and respect his right to make his own choices.

So I quietly applaud him for recognizing one thing he can control. Himself.

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