is a tool
in my parental toolbox
that’s getting a lot of use

similarly, elaboration
ad nausium

if I explain
enough times
in enough different ways
it’s remarkable how often
your three-year-old mind will just

but above all
this one strategy
has cleared more tears
and cooled more anger
than any other:

slow down
and pay attention

life comes at you fast
at 38 inches

schedules, and deadlines
problems you don’t know about
and solutions you won’t be involved in
all going, mostly, over your head

but when we hit a snag
-- your will against mine --
your desires, my deadlines
as too often happens

when I’m at my best
I’ll sit down
next to you
lean against the kitchen cabinet

slow down
and pay attention

I've noticed that the places where I most come in conflict with my three-year-old is when we're on a time crunch to get somewhere; and it's funny how my normal mode is to impose a time crunch even when there's not one. He wants to mess around in the car after we get home with groceries, and I ... want to get on to my next thing. But taking 2 or 3 minutes with him, to let him play around, really doesn't disrupt my day too much. And it makes it easier, when there really is a deadline, to say "I usually try to let you take the time you want, but this time we really can't".