All parents know this moment. It begins the first time your child sleeps through the night. It is such a blissful moment of joy... but you don't quite celebrate it full out, knowing the next night may be back to feedings every few hours. How many nights in a row does it take before you go to bed confident of a full night's sleep?
With infants it seems somehow infinitely easier to celebrate the small milestones and grant the child a pass when s/he backslides into the old patterns. No knowledgeable parent expects a child to sleep through the night foreverafter that first blissful surprise. Sure, there are a lucky few [I've heard of but never met] whose child sleeps through from then on, but it is rare. No knowledgeable parent expects their toddler to be out of diapers forever after their first successful use of the "potty."
Yet as our children grow older we [I] seem to expect the lessons to be learned more quickly, more efficiently, with steadier successes and fewer backslides. It can be a simple task ["Put the dishes away, don't just stack them on the counter."]. It can be a family rule. ["You MUST call and tell me if you are going to go to someone's house after school."] It can be a moral choice. ["Just because you want it doesn't give you the right to take it."] But somehow after the first or second time the instruction is almost always accompanied by my exasperated comment [dare I say whine?] of "How many times have I told you...x,y,z?" or "Haven't I told you before...x,y,z?" or some variation of the rant.
Deep inside I know that no infant will be more able to soothe themselves back to sleep if I scolded "How many times have I told you to just close your eyes and you will go back to sleep?!" So doesn't it follow that no adolescent will be more encouraged or able to fight temptation [of laziness, carelessness, or moral dilemma] with me scolding an instruction louder or more angrily than the first, second, etc. times I said it?
So now I am holding my breath. Perhaps this IS the time of success. But if it is not, then please can I remember to enjoy the successful moments as they came, to savor them. Like that first night of sleeping through, let me use the unexpected respite to rejuvenate and re-energize, so that I can start again, calmly and quietly, encouraging and supporting rather than whining and barking. It would be better for me. Better for them. For all of us, I am holding my breath and savoring this time.