The Yin and The Yang of It

The Beaner has a habit of focusing on the negative. We can have had a fabulous day together, and he'll focus on the toy I just told him he couldn't buy, or the fact that he has to take a bath when he doesn't waaaaaaaaaaant to. Usually I try to snap him out of the downward spiral by building a ladder out of all the good things that happened that day. (It's sort of a variation on the "mommy loves you, and daddy loves you, and grandma loves you..." litany I used to recite to him at bedtime when he was littler.)

On Sunday when we were driving back from New York, and the Beaner got stuck in the misery of the fact that we had to leave his cousin's house, Al introduced the concept of yin and yang. "What's that?" asked the Beaner. "It's a belief that the world is in balance between the light and the dark, the good and the bad, and that even the worst evil has a kernel of good in it, and the most good has a kernel of something bad," I said. "Daddy's trying to tell you that you're only sad to be leaving now because you had such a good time this weekend. The leaving is the small kernel of bad in a large pool of good."

Today was a day like that: mostly good, with only a small kernel of bad. For the first day in a long time, the Beaner wasn't given a time out at school, sent out into the hall, or made to sit with Miss Nicole in the lobby. He was kind and polite and a joy to be around after school. He wished me a good day at work after lunch, and said goodbye cheerfully to Aura at the end of the day. Aura said he had a little trouble this afternoon, but when I asked the Beaner about it he didn't say, "I don't remember," as he usually does. Instead he explained that he'd had trouble saying goodbye gracefully after playing with J and R in the park.

garden hoe and dirt boy

The evening was a little chaotic because I invited him to garden with me, and then Al and the Beaner painted the car they'd made out of a cardboard box. We didn't end up eating dinner until almost 8pm, and we'd also promised him he could watch some TV because he'd had a good day at school, so bedtime didn't happen until 9pm. The disruption in the schedule affected Al and me more than it did the Beaner, however, thanks to the better day overall. At bedtime I said to him, "you had a really good day today. Let's try to build on this for tomorrow." He repeated the phrase "build on this" to himself before asking me to sit in the chair until he fell asleep.

I'd like to think that I just planted a seed of positivity in his brain, one that will help him build his own little ladder of happiness when he feels the pull of the downward spiral. You can do it, my love. Cling to the yang!

Posted by Lori in parenthood at 9:24 PM on May 13, 2008