It’s Not All Mary Poppins


It’s nap time, and all is quiet. Yes, there are construction noises outside, but inside, all is calm. Thankfully. My ears are still ringing with Arthur.

Arthur has been with us a week now. It’s not been difficult, exactly, but it’s been tiring! He’s a very verbal child. Oh, come now, let’s not use insipid euphemisms: the boy is verbose. He talks non-stop, and he talks loud. What he says is often interesting, frequently funny, and occasionally exasperating. It’s also completely, absolutely, unstoppably incessant.

Prior to being with me, Arthur had a nanny. This year, though, Arthur’s family thought that a larger group would be good preparation for his entry to school in another year.

I think they’re absolutely right. Arthur has very little tolerance for sharing. Not sharing belongings – he’s not bad at that. Not great, not as good as many three year olds, but no worse than many others. What he hasn’t a clue about sharing is time, space, and attention.

He expects my attention non-stop. Obviously, he can’t have it, and we’ll train him into more realistic and less self-absorbed patterns in time, but in the meantime, it’s exhausting: “Not right now, Harry, I’m talking to Thomas.” “Arthur, you must stop talking now. George is trying to speak.” “What did Darcy say, Arthur? He has an idea, too.”

I wonder what would happen if I burst out with, “Oh, for heaven’s sake, Arthur, shut up a minute, will you?!” Of course, I won’t. But I do get my moments of delerium, where the fantasy has a lot of appeal…

He doesn’t share space well. This morning he called me over in great indignation, “Mary, they’re not giving me any roooom!!” Thomas, George, and Zach were standing at my window, watching the construction. There was ample room for Arthur there, and in fact, George had shifted down to make space for him. This was still, as far as Arthur was concerned, “Not making room”, for what Arthur expected was for everyone else to move out of the window. He is simply unused to the bit of jostling that’s a normal part of living in a group.

He doesn’t share time. When he’s got that conversational ball, he doesn’t let go of it for love nor money. On and on and on he goes.

So, of course I’m devising strategies to help him to learn, and even to enjoy, being with others, to see them as enhancers, rather than inhibitors of his days. I’ll teach him to cooperate with them for time, space, and attention, rather than constantly competiing. He’ll get there: he’s a cheerful, willing, straightforward little guy. It will also take a fair investment of my energy, and rock-solid consistent treatment, and steadily increasing expectations. Phew!

Can I have a nap, now, too?

June 22, 2005 - Posted by | daycare, Developmental stuff, individuality, manners, socializing, the dark side


  1. Your description of Harry is precisely why we had another child.

    Christopher *was* Harry, but at 2 1/2 it was too much and we decided to up that second child time line a bit.

    He’s still a talker, but at least he shares his space (all of it) quite well with his sister!


    Comment by misfit | June 22, 2005 | Reply

  2. Whew, I got exhausted reading your description of little Harry (wasn’t he the refreshingly polite one from a few days ago?). Anyway, my little engaging enigma K. Elisabeth is kind of like your young Harry…she can wear you out in a hurry if you let her monopolize your attention. But she does get left out a lot by her older siblings. Thank goodness her Mommy’s back around to help with giving her attention, as well as her frequent playdates with classmates.

    Comment by Kevin B | June 22, 2005 | Reply

  3. Misfit: Good for you for deciding to have another, after one of those! Many parents might be tempted to quit at the strain of it, but of course, a second is the best response to it! Reassuring for you parents, and good for both children. Bet there was a time you were worried, though?

    Kevin: Yup, he’s the polite one. He still is: remembers his pleases and thank you’s, and all that. This stuff, too, is also manners, but much more sophisticated stuff.

    Comment by Mary P. | June 22, 2005 | Reply

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