It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Four-year-olds

…are Rule People. I know I’ve talked about that before. And because they are Rule People, they very readily become that second-worst bane of my existence, Tattlers. (The first? Whiners. Hate whining. Hate it, hate it, hate it.)

And when tattling is combined with whining — “Maaaaaaaryyyyy, she won’t shaaay-yerrrrr” — my left eye starts twitching as I contemplate running away to Tahiti. Again.

All of which could make one think that I don’t like four-year-olds. Not true!

Four-year-olds, along with being Rule People, are very often Organizers. Emily has always been an organizer, and Emily is now four.

She is not much of a tattler, either, in part because I squelch it pretty effectively, but mostly because she just dons her big-sister-organizer hat, and sorts them right out herself.

“Tyler, you know you have to share the toys. You can have it for two more minutes, and then it will be my turn, okay?”

It usually works. And when it doesn’t, she approaches me for assistence, radiating competence and the attitude that we’re both in this together. She’s not tattling, she is information-sharing. Really information-sharing.

“Mary, Tyler is not sharing, again. (Here she rolls her eyes and heaves a “can’t-they-be-exasperating?” sigh.) I gave him two minutes, but he’s decided to keep it still. Would you tell him he needs to give it to me, please?”

And during those times when Mary has decided it’s time for a tea-break on the couch and “no I won’t help you with that, I’m having my tea now”, Emily steps into the breach.

She organizes circle times. They sing “Old MacDonald” — because, with Noah in this house NO circle time is complete without four or seven verses of Old MacDonald, and Emily knows this and indulges him. They sing “The Wheels on the Bus” — Tyler’s favourite. They sing “The More We Get Together” — Nissa’s choice.

She organizes games. “We’ll do Ring Around a Rosey. You hold Nissa’s hand, Tyler. Nissa, you have to let him hold your hand. We’re going to play Ring Around a Rosey. GOOD girl!”

If you just want to drown in cute, it’s four toddlers playing Ring Around a Rosey, completely unfettered by adult intervention. My tea-breaks last a lot longer when Emily is in charge, because it’s just so damned adorable. Lordy.

Lots of little girls take on the role of mini-mum. At my place, Emily is a mini-Mary.

Only she’s way cuter. 🙂

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January 27, 2010 - Posted by | Developmental stuff, Emily, individuality, the cuteness!, whining | , , ,

6 Comments »

  1. Lol! She is also learning conflict management, people skills, and diplomacy! She can trace her career as a high flying corporate executive right back to Mary’s livingroom!

    There you go. Do I get a percentage??

    Comment by jess | January 27, 2010 | Reply

  2. I wish I could see that. That sounds excellent.

    My five year old has reached the tattler stage (I think only now because his sister only just started to get really naughty), and I’m trying a couple of your tricks, but they’re not working so far. Sigh. I hate it, too. Persistence seems to be called for, I just wish it wasn’t so tiring.

    It is tiring. I’ve been through it so many times, I’m always quite confident when I begin that I will prevail and better responses will be learned… but that doesn’t mean I don’t feel a surge of profound reluctance when it first appears. (Oh, this, again? Do I have to? Whine, whine, whine…) With some children, it vanishes quickly, but with others? Persistence is the word, and it does get tedious, no doubt about it. Of course, a permanent tattler/whiner would be even worse, so what choice is there?

    The journey of a thousand miles… 😀

    Comment by Mwa | January 28, 2010 | Reply

  3. So cute!

    My four-year old is also a firstborn and wow, are those qualities ever intensified!

    Firstborns do tend to be intense, don’t they? But you’re managing yours just fine, I know!

    Comment by Rosie_Kate | January 28, 2010 | Reply

  4. I love this post and the links! And the average post was super too. But then again, I follow this blog for a reason.

    If you ever get inspired (or have a link), I would love your views on that mamabear think some of us (even benign neglectors) have.

    How do you/did you tame that bear? It drives me batty that that I get all tense and such when I evaluate other kids as treating my shy/compliant boys unfairly- especially since I’m decent about letting them work out their issues at home.

    Come to think of it, I think you had some posts on bullying a while back. Maybe I will go check those out.

    Oh, http://www.blogher.com/it-takes-village-create-monster is a post that I thought was interesting (but unrelated to my life with shy kids).

    I think that mamabear urge is appropriate, and I don’t know a mother without it. The only issue is how you express it: do you wade in and solve that problem for them (and sometimes, though not often, that’s genuinely necessary), or do you step back and teach them the skills to deal with it themselves? But the urge? Don’t wish it away. Your kids need that, both in the moment of injustice, and just in the background, for their own security.

    Comment by MB | January 28, 2010 | Reply

  5. aww, cute! My 5 year old does that. There are times I actually find myself sayng: No, sweetheart, Mommy is in charge, I will tell/do that xx

    Oh, Emily and I have that conversation quite regularly. This, however, seems an appropriate and benign outlet for her organizational urge. And it’s so cute!

    Comment by Nat | January 29, 2010 | Reply

  6. […] four. They are Rules People. Will I miss the contentious, pointless, reflexive competition and the tattling? Not for a second! Oh, to be free of it!!! … For a year or so, that is, until Poppy turns […]

    Pingback by Another passage « It’s Not All Mary Poppins | August 1, 2013 | Reply


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