Those Little Winters
February 2, 2023
February 2, 2023
Some kids learn to ride a bike in a day, but for most it takes weeks of false starts and skinned knees and tumbles before it feels natural.
Some kids learn to do fractions in a week, but for most it takes months or even years of returning to the same concepts over and over until it all finally sticks.
This month marks the 30th anniversary of the release of Groundhog Day, the movie in which a cynical weatherman, Phil Connors (played by Bill Murray), is trapped in a time loop in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, forced to relive the same February 2 day hundreds of times—starting with Sonny and Cher's "I Got You Babe" on the clock radio—until he finally learns what life is really about. The term "Groundhog Day" is now a fixture in our culture, representing both the idea that it takes time to learn things, and how unending that time can feel when you're trapped in the trying part.
Kids, who have not lived through enough seasons of frustration and success to know better, can believe they're doomed never to master the shoe-tying or bike-riding or the dividing of three-fourths by two-thirds. And admit it: Often you, too, are privately convinced those little winters won't end: that they'll never sleep through the night, get potty trained, or put their dishes in the dishwasher. At those times, we draw on the strength of what we know rather than what we feel: that this chapter will indeed be done someday, maybe ebbing away quietly, maybe finishing with a BING.
Then we hold them close and whisper in their ear our own personal version of the song that so plagued Phil, and they feel better.