It’s Not All Mary Poppins

It’s my Christmas miracle

Nissa, as I’ve said before, is a busy baby.

And four-year-olds (as I know I have mentioned previously but can’t find the posts, dammit) have a fondness for the Rules which can make them a tad officious. Little police-men and tattlers of the daycare. Nigel, who is with us today, is very definitely four. He’s always been a bit anal, with a strong tendency to get anxious when things aren’t done PRECISELY as they have Always! Been! Done!!! Put anxiety-boy plonk in the middle of the RulesRUs stage, and you have a recipe for a day filled with tattling, power struggles, recrimination, finger-pointing, shouting, stomping..

I brace myself. Practice my deep breathing. Dust off my practiced anti-tattling sentences. (“Is anyone bleeding? Is it dangerous? No? Then you don’t need to tell me.”)

However…

“No, Nissa, you can’t do that. Let’s colour.”
“That is too small to put in your mouth. You can have this crayon instead.”
“Nissa, I don’t think you’re allowed to stand on the couch.”
“Hey, Nissa. I can put your bib on for you.”
“If you spit out that playdough, I will make you a snake.”

Once in a while, you get that perfect, near-miraculous combination of the Rule-bound 4-year-old who can express the rules with sensitivity and respect (!!!) and a 19-month-old who has stars in her eyes and will do ANYTHING that Big Boy says.

And then, my friends? THEN you have achieved Nirvana. If only for the moment.

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December 7, 2009 Posted by | manners, Nigel, Nissa, socializing | , , , , , , | 8 Comments

The how and how not of tattling

Tattler“Mary! Mary, Tyler ate a piece of apple!”
“Mary! Nissa’s playing with the shoes!”
“Mary! He din’ wait for his TURN!”

Malli is visiting us this week. Malli has always been a bit of a prima donna, and a year of school hasn’t lessened this tendency one whit.

“Mary! It is supposed to be MY turn with the ball!”
“Mary! Noah’s touchin’ my cup!”
“Mary! The babies are bumping into me!”

And of course I ask her “Did you talk to [whoever] about it?” And of course she hasn’t. So of course I send her off to do that thing.

“Mary! He has all the books!”
“Mary! She is stompin’ her feet and I don’t LIKE that!”
“Mary! Emily says her daddy is bigger than my daddy!”

And of course I drill her in “Is anyone hurt? Is it dangerous? Is anyone bleeding?” And of course, every time the answer is NO, NO, and NO. “Well, unless it’s DANGEROUS, or someone could get HURT, or someone is BLEEDING, you don’t need to tell me.”

Ten times an hour. All morning long. (YES, she’s gotten worse since the last time I saw her. Her JK teacher must just love her to bits…)

And then, William’s voice calls out in alarm.

“Mary! Tank’s on top of the table!”

And so he is. With this climbing machine in the house, I’ve taken to my standby response: render the tabletop inaccessible by either pushing the benches right under the table, or by tipping them upside down. So far the first solution (easier for me) is working just fine. Tank hasn’t figured out how to push the benches out again, so he just climbs onto the bench, and then complains mightily when his head bashes repeatedly into the underside of the table.

And I laugh. Mwah-ha.

So how could Tank be up on the table? Has he learned to push the benches out? No.

See, Malli is lingering at her snack. The rest of us — including the Tankmeister — have long since left the table. But Malli is … savouring her pears and apples. Sitting on a bench.

And Tank, being Tank, has seen his opportunity, scrambled up the bench and scaled the tabletop.

And now sits on the table, RIGHT BESIDE MALLI. Malli the Tattle Queen? Who tells me EVERYTHING? Every TINY infraction of even POTENTIAL rules?

Malli has not said a word. Not.One.Word.

I think she hates me.

August 19, 2009 Posted by | Malli, Peeve me, socializing, the dark side | , , , , , | 3 Comments

Just do it! Or not.

dripdrop2Timmy climbs up on the bench beside me, where I am diligently blog-surfing playing Facebook Scramble tidying up after crafts.

“Maaaarryyyy….” his voice is a tremulous quaver. “Emily did something to meeee…”

This is not an example of Information Sharing. This is just plain old tattling. And it’s whiny tattling, at that. The kind that makes you want to poke your eardrums out, because that would be less painful than listening to it.

I have had three nights of insufficient sleep. The children are VERY LOUD today, due to my decision (borne of insufficient sleep, obviously), that I am TOO TIRED to take them outside. So now I am trapped in the house with five children under four DESPERATELY IN NEED OF EXERCISE. Kill me now.

No, never mind. I’m obviously doing a fine job of that all by myself.

“Timmy, I’ll do something to you if you don’t go talk to Emily about it. Go on, now.” (What? We’ve been working on this “don’t tell me, tell the one who’s involved” for weeks now. And I’m tired.)

He wanders over to the kitchen door, and calls into the kitchen.

“Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily?”

She must’ve looked up eventually, probably with the feeling that she’s undergoing some kind of personalized Chinese water torture (can I say that? that’s not way non-PC?), because lord only knows that’s how I’M feeling about it right now. Death by a thousand mosquito bites. No! Insanity by a solitary mosquito whining in your ear that just. will. not. die.

She must’ve looked up, I say, because he stopped with the water torture, and continued.

“Emilyyyyyy, don’t do iiiiiiit.”

I am quite sure that Emily has no more idea than I what “it” might be, and evidently she decided not to sweat it. There was no discernable change in the activity level in the kitchen. Timmy paused a moment… then went, humming a slightly mangled version of “Rudolph”, to the living room to pull stuff out from under the couch cushions.

For today, that’s good enough for me.

December 23, 2008 Posted by | Peeve me, the dark side, Timmy, whining | , , , | 1 Comment

It’s all in your head. Sometimes.

1119963_meditation___“Mary, Anna took my paper!”
“Mary, Tyler is playing with the boots!”
“Mary, Emily bumped me!”
“Mary, Noah is trying to eat my plum!”

It’s a gentle whine, not a cry of outrage. Whatever the tone of voice, however, the content bears witness to the unfortunate fact:

Timmy has entered The Tattling Time. One of my all-time least favourite toddler passages.

Bleah.

It is inexpressibly tedious to be dragged into each and every teeny conflict, to be expected to mediate and chastise, my role to stand behind the tattler and put the other guy in her place.

Bleah.

I am no one’s hired bully-boy, little man.

My response is well-practiced, and in fact these three deal with their squabbles pretty well. In the case of the purloined paper, given that Timmy’s picture was directly in front of Timmy, and Anna’s in front of her, it seems this one had been resolved, too. Before he even spoke to me.

So, really, there was no need for my input at all. This is possibly the most exasperating manifestation of The Tattling Time: The Totally Pointless Tattle.

Bleah, bleah, bleah.

“Anna took your paper?”
“Yes.”
“And you told her to give it back?”
“Yes.”
“And then Anna gave it back?”
“Yes.”
“Did you say ‘sorry’ when you gave it back, Anna?”
“Yes.”
“So, there you go! You used your words, and Anna listened, and it’s all fixed now. You fixed the problem all by yourselves! Good job!” We all three beam at each other, we maybe even clap our hands and do a small happy dance, so pleased are we with ‘our’ handling of this small crisis.

There. We’ve rehearsed the protocol, we’ve reinforced their appropriate behaviour, we’ve arrived at an emotionally satisfactory ending, all without me being drawn into the Enforcer role. It’s what I do, every time. It’s an effective response, and will, in time, help to reduce the incidence of tattling.

I have tried also adding, “…so you don’t need to tell me at all!” Picture my hopeful smile, eyebrows raised, head nodding. “You can do it, kid! Have the problem, address the problem, and solve the problem, all without dragging Mary in as your Enforcer.

That has been less effective. In fact, I would go so far as to say it was 100% ineffective.

I am sooooo tired of the Totally Pointless Tattle. So very, very tired. But Timmy is driven to tell me these things. Driven, I tell you.

And therein lay the solution to my problem. Entirely within my control, too.

This morning? This morning I made a decision. I would perform a conscious and deliberate attitude shift. No longer will these exchanges be examples of the Totally Pointless Tattle. Now they are simply “Information Sharing.”

To-dah! With a simple switch of mental gears, Timmy is not begging for my punitive intervention. He is not expecting me to don the brass knuckles. No, he is merely telling me what just happened, keeping me apprised of their little exchanges.

And me, I am rehearsing and reinforcing good behaviour and appropriate responses.

He’s saying what he was saying before. I’m saying what I was saying before. It’s all exactly the same as before, and yet, amazingly, about 84% less irritating.

Mind over attitude, baybeee! Mind over attitude. Ohmmmmm…

December 18, 2008 Posted by | behavioural stuff, socializing, whining | , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments