It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Time for an Object Lesson, part 2

His face freezes, his eyes widen in alarm. “This is MY sweater that my granny made for me!”

I radiate sincerity. Well, not sincere sincerity, but a good enough approximation to fool a three-year-old. Parenting, done well, requires some acting ability. “Yes, but I like it.” I undo the next button. Arthur is starting to panic. His voice rises and quivers, tears spring to his eyes.

“You can’t have my sweater!”

I stop. Put my hands on his shoulders, and look him dead in the eye. “How do you feel right now, Arthur?”

He looks at me, mute with unhappiness.

“It looks like you’re feeling sad. Maybe you’re worried, too, or a little angry?”

He nods his head. “I am sad because you are taking my sweater.”

“You don’t want me to take your sweater, do you?”


“Even though I really like it?”


“Arthur. George didn’t want you to take his horse. He was playing with it. When you tried to take the horse, George felt sad, just like you feel sad now.”

I put my arm around him, draw him onto my knee. “I’m not going to take your sweater. I really like it, but I won’t take it, because it’s yours. You can’t take toys from the other children, even though you really like their toy. Understand?”

“I understand.”

I think – I’m not making any rash bets on it, mind you – but I think he really does this time. At least a little bit.

October 19, 2005 Posted by | Developmental stuff, manners, parenting, socializing | 12 Comments