Earlier this week, on the third day of spring, my youngest daughter (a child who balked at wearing anything but short sleeves all frigid winter long) said, "I don't think long sleeves are that bad anymore."
The child finally yields. It's never too late.
Just yesterday I watched as she tried to pull a winter jacket over her long sleeved dress. The sleeves of the dress kept riding up. No matter how she struggled underneath the jacket, she simply couldn't tug the ends of the dress' sleeves down to her wrists. Frustration mounted in that desperate I-knew-long-sleeves-wouldn't-be-worth-it way, leaving her in tears.
I sat on the linoleum beside her as she sniffed. "Let me show you something."
She wiped her nose and looked at me. I showed her how to pinch her sleeve with her thumb and index finger, hold the pinch tightly while slipping her arm into the jacket, and then release the pinched fabric when her hand emerged.
She practiced with her other arm, talking herself through the steps, until her jacket was on and -- most importantly -- her dress sleeves were perfectly un-bunched underneath.
A small victory, really, but last night I went to bed with the satisfaction that I had taught her something valuable.
If only it would always be this easy to help them with their problems.