The Stanford marshmallow experiment
As I write this, you are almost sixteen months old. I still feel guilty that your Grandma McCarthy has been taking the most care of you because I am still focused on your mama.
So many people write me asking about her these days. They’re waiting for some news. We are as well. We wait to see if we have more monsters to fight. We wait and wish.
For now, we pretend we’re a normal family raising you.
On that note, I learned something in college that stayed with me all these years called The Stanford marshmallow experiment.
In it, several scientists found a simple 15-minute test given to 3-5 year olds that later turned out to be the single biggest determinant of a child’s success in the world – more than IQ, education, wealth, or anything else.
The test went like this:
- A child was led into a room, empty of everything but their favorite food, like a marshmallow, on a table.
- The child was told that he or she could have the marshmallow now OR
- Wait 15 minutes and they could have two of them.
The children were tracked for several years and the researchers found that those that waited that extra 15 minutes did better at pretty much everything, versus the ones that would simply eat the marshmallow as soon as the researchers left.
A book I love called The Count of Monte Cristo ends with this line:
All human wisdom is contained in these two words – “Wait and Hope”
I wish so many things for you. Suppose all fathers do. But what I wish most for you is not wealth, intelligence, health, or any of these things.
What I wish for you is that you are patient and optimistic. If you are these two things, all those other things will follow and so much more.
This writer named Bernard Malamud once said that, Life is a tragedy full of joy.
If all human wisdom is contained in the verbs: Wait and Hope, then the essence of life is contained in the nouns: Tragedy and Joy.
Tragedy will come, that you can count on. I wish it weren’t so. After all, it’s the nature of the world to whittle you down to nothingness.
But joy always comes again, I promise. You just have to be patient.
We have so much tragedy, yes. But we also have so much joy because we have you. You are our greatest joy.
Always wait and hope, Nate. Because joy always comes again.
Location: Still at home, waiting.
Mood: anxious but patient
Music: Just sit down, take it slowly. You’re still young, that’s your fault