Wednesday, March 4, 2009

An Exercise in Literal Thinking

With Kate, I’ve learned that as much as I can prepare her for something new in advance, the greater likelihood that something new will be bearable for all of us. Accordingly, I’ve perfected this technique of prepping her for new experiences, ones where I am near hyperventilating about how she will otherwise handle. If I can tell her what to expect, what will happen, and WHAT SHE WILL DO, I can guarantee some degree of cooperation. This method works so much better than not talking to her about it at all, or issuing ultimatums and threats that I will not follow-through on when she misbehaves. Kate sees a threat as a challenge, the ultimate test of her will. In other words, a threat is the spoken contract that she will promptly do whatever it is that you’ve banished, while she looks over her shoulder at you with a twinkle in her eye. Damn those hereditary genes.

So, my convoluted approach works with Kate. Let’s say we were getting ready to take her to an event. I talk about the event, what she’ll see, who would be there, and any other pertinent information. Then I nonchalantly add her into the story line, “Then you will sit in your seat like such a big girl and you will clap and stay really good in your chair Kate.” So, when said event arrives and all things follow the storyline I’ve woven, she naturally expects the next paragraph to follow suit. So, as she sits there, stationary in her chair, she looks at me with excitement and says, “See mom, I AM sitting here right in my chair and I HAVE been clapping.” She is ineffably thrilled about executing her role without blemish.

Maybe it’s parental common sense to take this approach. I don’t know, but I feel pretty smart figuring it out all on my own, so humor me in this accomplishment. Either it is a moment of mommy-brillance, or one more check mark in the “contributed to the need for intense psychotherapy” box that her future therapist will check. “So tell me again Kate, how did your mother make up stories in such a way that you were removed from your true reality?”

While Kate and I ate dinner tonight, I capitalized on the perfect moment to start talking about DA PLANE DA PLANE. We talked about the plane, the noise, the turbulence, and the little bottles of liquor mom will need to sneak in her carry on.

“And then the plane will take off into the sky Kate. When it does, your ears might feel a little funny. So, we’ll bring suckers so you can suck on them to help your ears.”

“My ears will be funny?”

“Yes, they’ll feel funny from being in the air.”

“Oh, because they will be flapping when we start flying?”

Um, well, not exactly. You may not find that nearly as funny as I did, but I am still laughing about it as I type. Perhaps that means it doesn’t take much to entertain me. I am okay with that.

I moved past the Dumbo-ear issue and started addressing the need to stay in our seat and BE QUIET. Because, for the love Kate, these people don’t want to listen to you narrate the entire flight, much like you narrate every moment of our life. We find it cute and endearing. They will, well, not.

“So, then Kate, we will have to be quiet. There will be a lot of other people on the plane and it is important to be quiet so we don’t bother other people.”

“Because then they will all get up and jump out of the plane mom?”


Jenners said...

So funny about the ears!
And yes, Kate. If you narrate your entire journey, the people might consider jumping out of the plane!

Seriously though, she might surprise you. My son did ... but bring like a TON of stuff for her to do to keep her busy that she has never seen before...and lots and lots of snacks.

Lisa said...

a good approach- makes sense x

Wilwarin said...

haha, i love her, she is great. it makes your life a bit like a pick-a-path book.

dizzblnd said...

I love the innocence and imagination of kids. Kate sounds like a she will "used to be witty" just like her mom

Jeanne said...

My sister and I took my nephew to Florida when he was about that age. We missed the connecting flight and had to spend the night in a hotel without our luggage.

And he was GREAT!

(BTW -- smart parenting is figuring out what works with YOUR kid. Sounds like you've done it -- congrats!)

C. Beth said...

I think it's hilarious! Of course, now I have a picture in my mind of your beautiful girl with very unattractively large ears, flapping in the wind.

I love your approach. I mean, I try to prepare her for going somewhere but I'm more likely to say, "I want you to obey Mommy, okay?" with probably a little desperation in my voice. Your matter-of-fact way of just telling her what WILL happen sounds like it might work with Chickie too. I'm going to try it. Thanks!

Jodi said...

LOL! I LOVE the ear's flapping! That is too funny! I have two airplane books I bought for Jenna before we flew. Let me know if you want to borrow them. I really thinked it helped her and she wanted to read them while we were on the plane too.

Call Me Cate said...

Well, if it counts for anything, *I* think you're brilliant. It wouldn't occur to me to narrate the kid into the story so they know what's expected of them. Don't let Joe read this post of he'll be trying it on me.

"And then you'll sit in your seat like a good girl and NOT freak out when they hand you the menu."

Rachel Cotterill said...

If I ever have kids, I'm totally stealing your story-telling technique! :)

stacief said...

OMG that is so funny about the ears flapping! Kids can say the funniest things.

I love your story idea and good luck on your trip.

MarjnHomer said...

cute dumbo ears. I laughed at that.