Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Invisible Handbook

For a while now I have felt that all children are born with invisible handbooks. Why invisible, you ask? Well, can you see this instruction manual that informs all children on how to behave in certain situations.

For instance, there must be an entire section just about getting attention.

"When in need of parental attention, the most natural way of seeking it is to cry. Keep in mind, however; that as you age, this will become less and less acceptable as well as less effective. You must be creative. Here are a list of options for you to keep things interesting if crying doesn't work.
1. First try the subtle, but never ending tap. Tap them wherever you can reach. If the tap is doing nothing, then move on to the grab, an article of clothing or a limb. Preferably the clothing because it's sure to grab their attention faster if they're worried about flashing someone.
2. Throw something. Try the closest object at first, but if that doesn't work, try something hard that will either make a loud noise or break OR both. That's a win/win.
3.  Drag out your largest, loudest toys. These work best while your parent is on the phone or trying to watch TV.
Whatever you do, don't get frustrated and just scream. This is a surefire way to get sent straight to your room. Just remember, there are many different and subtle ways to 'throw a fit.' Be creative."

The section about how to get out of trouble must be extensive, and I believe that my children have read that section thoroughly.

"The instant you begin to get a tone or look from your parent letting you know that you are very close to trouble, you must let the cuteness seep out of your pores. A look which is most helpful is a slight tilt of the head with a half smile. Simultaneously bat your eye lids while opening them as wide as you can. Don't be discouraged. This is a tough cute face to master, but once you get it, your rear end will thank you. However, you must learn the proper times to use such a face. You don't want to come off as smug, so if you've done something serious enough, skip the cute face entirely and go straight for the apologetic cry and hug. Throw your arms around the offended parent immediately, and, if you've learned how, say 'I'm sorry!' do so in the best baby lisp you can muster.

Depending on your age and talent level, you may even be able to use the rare and coveted humor deterrent. Throw them off the scent of trouble with a little laughter. If they so much as crack a smile, then you've got them. Game over."

I learned of that entry the other day when Elijah was in trouble. I had told him repeatedly to leave the dog alone, but he insisted on pointing the squirt gun at her and pretending as though she was some sort of thief in our home. Selah, God bless her, was as patient as she could be. He had her backed right up against the wall, but she sat there merely snarling a warning at him, while I did all the yelling.

"Elijah! I've told you a dozen times already, leave the dog alone! She didn't do anything to you!" I yanked the squirt gun out of his hand, and he marched off toward his room.
I was doing the dishes when I noticed he had gone down the hall. He likes to play the victim and send himself to his room even when we haven't sent him there. Then he acts as though we did. Usually we let him do it. It tends to work to our advantage, but lately it's annoyed me more that he thinks he's manipulating me to feel sorry for him, so I yelled down the hall from the kitchen, "Elijah! What are you doing?"
"I'm not in my room!" he yelled back at me defiantly. He, very cleverly, only marched to his door, and stood there pouting, and he knew exactly what I was getting at.
"I didn't ask you that. I asked what you're doing."
"Well I'M.....NOT......IN.......MY......ROOOOOOOOM!" This time he poked his scowling head around the corner into the kitchen where I was doing the dishes, and he saw my scowling face back.
"Lose the attitude, Elijah!" I snarled at him.
He pointed down the hall, and yelled, "It's right there!"
And as the smile crept up onto my lips I silently cursed that invisible handbook.

The section on potty training is shorter than you would think. There are thousands of books at a parent's disposal about potty training their child, but the rules in the invisible handbook are short and to the point.

"Potty training? Your parents are under the mistaken impression that such a thing can be trained. You have one and only one instruction here. Use the potty when, and only when you want to. Their threats to you hold very little meaning while they are subjected to cleaning up your pee and your poop."

I really thought that section of the handbook was longer, but after much thought, I've realized that it really needn't say anything more. My children have done everything within their power to prove to me that I have no say in this 'training' what-so-ever.

Last week, Chastity began telling me when she had to go pee. I stupidly thought, "This is it!" After a long (and I do mean LONG) 18 months worth of potty training with Elijah, who is still very much on his own timing, I have been blessed with one of those children everyone talks about...the one who just knows when they're ready and takes it upon themselves to do the deed.

Well, within a week, I'd say Chastity has pretty much figured out (or decided to figure out) the peeing. However, I've noticed the opposite problem with this one than with Elijah, proving to me that it is, in fact, a conspiracy. I was prepared for a battle. Elijah had prepped me with the fights, the kicking and the screaming, and the refusing to step foot in the bathroom, but Chastity wants me to put her on the potty nearly every ten minutes. Do you know how many times a day I have to wash my hands? The skin is one wash away from cracking right off my knuckles. And do you know how many times she actually goes? About 1 in 5 times I take her. Rather than complain, I decided to be happy with it, but I had to set a timer so that she can't just hop on and off 'til her little heart's content. So one of the million times I took her to the potty today, I was in the middle of something. I left her there, set the timer in the kitchen, and went about my chores. But, like a pro, she took a note straight out of the handbook about getting my attention. The timer hadn't gone off, but she wanted down. I refused to go in there...that is, until I heard this:

"Mommy! I neeeeeed you wipe my hands!!"

What on earth?

"MOOOOOMMMMY! I NEEEEEEEED you wipe my hands!!!"

Has she confused her butt with her hands?
I rushed in to find that she knew exactly which was which, and she'd wiped the former with the latter.

Points for creativity, Chastity. Well done.

1 comment:

  1. You should write a book, Erin! Your writing is so entertaining and insightful and on point!