One of the pleasures of life, as everybody knows, is getting it right.
Making your bed and folding the top edge of the bedspread back just so. Remembering to pour your tea into a travel mug before a long drive. Timing your arrival at a point of rendevouz exactly as your friend arrives too.
It brings a smile to my face just to think of moments like these.
One of the unavoidable truths about parenting is that you will rarely have that feeling again.
You get a premonition of this on your wedding. Something is bound to go slightly awry with the logistics of such a large event. But it doesn't matter. It only adds to the memory of that perfect day.
Then you have children and "getting it right" becomes a distant memory.
You are always spilling the apple sauce just when you lean over to wipe someone's nose. And by the time you clean the apple sauce from the floor, you have already forgotten that you said you would bring an egg carton to school with your child today for the "topography of our time" art project (or something like that, you can't remember what the teacher called it). And when you return home to get the egg carton you realize that you left the door open, the cat has peed in the corner, and you just missed an important meeting that you had been waiting for all week.
Then there are those magical breakfasts when everybody stays in their chairs, pancakes stand in tall stacks on the plates, the syrup pours without dripping down the side of the bottle, the conversation of your children is inexplicably low and murmuring, and for a moment you look at your spouse and think... Could it be? At that moment, just when things are about to coalesce into a moment of transcendence, one of your kids will usually throw up.
But it's not their fault. We have to remember that children have an instinct for getting it right, just as we do. They just need practice.
You don't believe me? I have proof.
Witness the following video of a 1-year-old test subject (let's call him George, here seen in April, 2006), who, believing himself to be unobserved, shows a stylish understanding of the principle of "getting it right" when putting some brooms and vacuum parts away.
His complete satisfaction at a job well done carries in it, I think, the whole picture of the promise and the challenges which lie ahead for this young man.