Review Session

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Dear J-

The trip and contact with other kids makes me think that figgy is an unusual one. Her cousin asked at one point if she was always this loud. And later, if she was always this angry. There is some truth to those observations. I thought that she would grow out of it but as she grows I fear that these ways are becoming more engrained instead: the shouting, the commands, the imperious unflinching nature. These things that are admirable in leaders and statesmen are tough to deal with in a four-year-old body. I look back on the two days in Disney and found that we consulted the figgy oracle to the point of making deals and cajoling her through lines — the whole agenda was set on her stomach and desires.

You may perhaps rightly deride us as overly malleable parents who give in at the first sign of trouble seeking harmony above discipline. And maybe we have been at first but we keep hammering and believe it or not the unyielding stone keeps breaking tools: time-outs, rewards, taking toys away, everything short of corporal punishment. Is this really all we can do? I think the most important tools in the arsenal are patience and a short memory: be willing to keep applying and forget that you’ve done this before because if you stop to concentrate on it and believe it’s part of a recurring trend you’ll never bother to stop escalating.

At four she has a world that’s not yet fully formed. Yet reasons and consequences are starting to make easy appearances too: it gets easier. I would not trade this kid for the world, still. The changes she’s brought to our lives has been uniformly positive and amazing. We are all still learning, but at least we’re all learning together.

Mike

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