There is a famous social experiment involving 4 year olds and marshmallows. They leave the kids in a room with a marshmallow on the table. If they can wait 15 minutes for the researcher to get back they can have two marshmallows instead of just the one. They found that the kids who could wait (usually by distracting themselves: looking around the room, singing a song, etc.) were somehow 'more successful' in their adult lives.
I'm not really sure what their criteria for 'more successful' were, but I do know that every time I have read about this study I have wondered what kind of kid I would have been. Sometimes I'm SURE I could have waited and most of the time I feel like that would have been an impossible task.
Today I was so pleasantly surprised to see my daughter 'wait for the second marshmallow'. I didn't even know it was happening at first. And then I realized it, and I was shocked. And so proud of her.
We were at the park. With her friends. They had been running and climbing and swinging and sliding. It was getting close to 11 and the kids started asking for snacks. We aren't big snackers because my kids don't eat good meals when they snack, but I've been trying to bring snacks to the park because our friends always do and we end up eating all their snacks...so I brought apples. Sis was half way through her apple when our friends broke out the fruit snacks and said there was enough.for.everyone! Immediately she started asking for some and I told her that she needed to finish her apple first. I was pretty sure she would get tired of the apple before she finished it and rejoin her friends (who had inhaled their fruit snacks). But she sat down right in front of me and slowly but surely finished her whole apple. She didn't say a word, or move a muscle (other than her arm and her jaw) while she was eating it. And as soon as she was done she turned around so calmly and said 'Momma, I have my fruit snack now?'
This girl is INTENSE. She knows what she wants. She FEELS things. Everything. Deeply. She is creative and competitive. She loves to see beauty. She is sensitive to her sleep and how full (or empty) her stomach is. Most of the time we have no idea what we are doing with her (how to mold such intensity to grow in a positive direction?!), and the rest of the time we are exhausted by the force of her 2 year old emotions.
But today. As she sat down with determination to eat her apple, I realized. YES! This girl DOES know what she wants (in the case it was fruit snacks) and she is willing to do the work that it takes to get it.
I'm proud of her for waiting, patiently. I'm proud of her for listening to my instruction. I'm proud of her for working hard for something she wanted without throwing a fit. She should me so much growth and maturity in those five minutes it took her to eat her apple!
And it is so fun to see her learning about life day after day.