Tuesday, November 20, 2007

and yesterday

Asnat turned up looking both dreamy and troubled. I asked her what was going on. Silence. Then, "I met a boy..."

So now she's thinking about staying here instead of moving to LA. Barak was sitting at the table eating breakfast. "Barak, do you want Asnat to stay or do you want her to go away?" Barak, bless him, looked up in alarm. "I want Asnat to stay." Good boy.

So, we'll see. I told her I needed to know for sure this week, so as to give the newly hired backup babysitter enough notice. I think she's staying though.

On the subject of Barak (sort of), what is it about three-year-olds and reality? This morning Barak woke up (too early) and started asking Abba for the Commander Salamander book (otherwise known as Commander Toad and the Space Pirates, by Jane Yolen--probably tied in Barak's worldview with Hershel and the Chanuka Goblins for world's best literary work). Abba, who was finishing up caulking the bathtub and rushing to get ready for work, stopped what he was doing to look for it but couldn't find it. He told Barak he couldn't find it. Barak's response was to remind Abba, again and again and AGAIN, that he wanted the Commander Salamander book. Abba told Barak he didn't have it. Repeat. Then Barak came into my room and told me he wanted the Commander Salamander book. I attempted further reason, which usually works with him (but not this time, clearly):

"You want the Commander Salamander book, right?"

"Yeah. I wanna Commander Salamander book."

"Does Imma have the Commander Salamander book?"

"No."

"Does Imma know where it is?"

"No."

"Can Imma get it for you, even if you ask lots and lots of times and kvetch a lot?"

"No."

"So is it going to help if you keep asking and kvetching? Is that going to get you the Commander Salamander book?"

"No."

"Does it make you feel good to kvetch? Does it make Imma happy?"

"No."

"Okay, sweetie. So let's stop kvetching and find another book."

Pause.

"I needa Commander Salamander book please."

Repeat. Eventually, I got up, got dressed, got Iyyar dressed, and started getting breakfast, with Barak still tailing me pleading for Commander Salamander. It was a little too early in the morning for this so finally I said, "Barak, if you really really have to keep kvetching, please go do it in your room. I don't like listening to kvetching." And of course he fell down on the floor screaming and crying.

I know that three-year-olds are not fully rational, and I know that it is a developmental stage to think that wants can influence reality. As in, I want to turn on the light/play the xylophone/listen to Uncle Moishy, so it isn't Shabbos right now, or alternatively, I want to eat cookies/go to shul/not have Imma go to work, ergo it IS Shabbos right now. But, gah! I will admit, somewhat shamefully, that I did see several Commander Toad books on the top shelf out of sight, but decided not to give him one, lest he come to the conclusion that if he kvetches enough what he wants will miraculously appear. I don't think anyone (except possibly Barak) could blame me for that one.

5 comments:

miriamp said...

We have a "you asked too many times" rule. If you keep nagging, you get told, "oops, you asked too many times. Now I can't give it to you." It evolved from a toddler asking three or more times before I could even open my mouth to answer, but it works pretty well in general. Saying "you asked too many times" gets me an immediate apology (from the 3 and 4 yr olds) and then a brief spate of no asking. Then sometimes it starts right back up, and sometimes they remember and only ask once the next time. (And then switch to "did you hear me?" if I don't immediately answer.)

In such a case, there would maybe have been an opportunity to give him one of the other books after an apology, some time, and one more nice question, say.

So if you think it would work for you, you can adopt/adapt our "asked too many times" rule. Otherwise, my sympathies, as the fellow mother of a 3 yr old.

uberimma said...

Well, I really couldn't find it for most of the time. My husband had looked and couldn't find it, and then I looked and couldn't find it. I explained to him that I couldn't find it, etc. Then, forty minutes later, I saw it, and since he was STILL wailing for it I didn't think it would be a good lesson for it to magically appear (and thought it would be downright mean at that point to say something that would sound to him like "Oh hey, I found it, but I'm still not giving it to you!")

miriamp said...

No, you're right, that would have been pretty mean. Since you did even look for it. It might work to head off future tantrums? I don't know where it is, but if you stop asking so many times, I'll keep looking for it, and if I find it later, I'll give it to you?

But sometimes (often?) 3 yr olds just can't get past the need to tantrum. Yesterday I found myself repeating "this too shall pass" under my breath... now I don't even remember which kid(s?) it was about!

LeahChaya said...

We have a similar "Mommy does not understand whining" rule. A request gets addressed, as long as it isn't whined the first time. Too many repetitions, or ANY whining repetitions, get met by, "I'm sorry, Mommy doesn't understand whining. Did you want to ask/tell me something?"

I don't remember how well it worked at 3, but by now, the oldest (10) doesn't whine, and the 8 YO knows the blank (huh, what?)look I get, and starts over nicely before I can remind her. It definitely helps to have started early.

LeahChaya said...

We have a similar "Mommy does not understand whining" rule. A request gets addressed, as long as it isn't whined the first time. Too many repetitions, or ANY whining repetitions, get met by, "I'm sorry, Mommy doesn't understand whining. Did you want to ask/tell me something?"

I don't remember how well it worked at 3, but by now, the oldest (10) doesn't whine, and the 8 YO knows the blank (huh, what?)look I get, and starts over nicely before I can remind her. It definitely helps to have started early.