When you learn the importance of calm from your spastic 7-year-old

I used to be the easy-going one. The calmest guy around.

Once upon a time, I could look at a stressful situation and rise — calmly — above, like a younger and more handsome Tom Brady. Indeed, I was always as cool, if not cooler, than the other side of the pillow.

But, kids, work, mortgage, bills, and the daily grind have worn down my resolve. I always do my best to identify those crazy times, rise above, and prevail. Sometimes, however, the situation gets the best of me.

In recent days, in fact, I’ve found myself twice in a situation so stressful I can only describe as akin to the theater of war.

The baby just won’t stop crying…

The reason for her hysterics is rarely something serious — typically she’s tired. You see, after waking up and being played with, fed, carried around for much of the morning, and changed before being fed again is quite tiring. But, damn does that screeching cry and inability to see or care that I’m trying my darndest bring me to my knees.

I’m helpless. I’m lost.

Good thing big sister is there for the rescue — of baby girl and Dad.

In both recent events in which the baby has absolutely lost her shit on me, our oldest has been their to calm her down. Amidst the craziest of sounds emanating from that tiny little vocal box, big sister rises above. She moves calmly to the baby like (a much younger and way cuter) Tom Brady to the line of scrimmage facing a 3rd-and-14 down 10 with six minutes to play.

She moves slowly, but with intent. She moves calmly, but arrives just in time. It takes but two “shhhs” and a calming presence, and the baby is playdough in her hands.

Both times, I’ve sat their in awe — pausing from getting the entire clan ready for the day and hoping against hope we’re not late yet again. But, even if we are late, it’s worth the pause and truly reflecting on the sheer beauty (and irony) of the situation.

It’s an incredible thing to see this 6 1/2 Years of Separation at play. We can only hope that type of “everything will be alright” messaging remains a constant in their relationship through the years.

It’s even more incredible to realize how inept you are as a parent in certain situations. I literally could not do what a seven-year-old accomplished in two seconds.

As I look back, there’s no way the baby could calm herself down with the tensity in which I went about my busy-morning business. I couldn’t calm myself down and feel ok with someone huffing and puffing about the location of sneakers and the fact that we were out of creamer. Could you?

The seven-year-old taught me something this past week. In the face of adversity and challenge: find your inner calm and execute the task at hand like a younger, wealthier, and more wonderful Tom Brady.

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Ben Larsen

Written by: Ben Larsen

Ben is one of the founders here at First Time Father Project. Follow Ben's trial-by-fire parenting here with columns, essays and more. Learn more about him here.

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