I mentioned yesterday how logic is beginning to play a more important role in your life. This doesn’t just apply to how you play with your toys.
It also has to do with learning which strategies work to get what you want from me.
Whether it’s a certain snack, or toy, or route home from school, you are learning that shouting and crying no longer work on me.
I have learned that you understand me when I tell you there’s a better (and easier) way to get what you want.
There’s no getting away with pretending you don’t speak the language. You totally understand what I’m saying now. And if you didn’t, you would make it clear to me.
Yesterday on the way home, you screamed, “Bridge! I want to go over the bridge! Turn right! Bridge.”
I spelled it out for you:
“Jack, if you want something from Daddy, you’ll need to ask please first, and not be crying when you ask for it. You’ll need to stop crying right now before it’s too late for me to cross the bridge. Otherwise, I’m going to turn left because it’s the quicker way home.”
You only hesitated for a second, as you realized your way wasn’t going to get you the results you were hoping for.
Like magic, the crying stopped and you asked please. We crossed the bridge, both literally and metaphorically.
(It’s funny how it’s sort of hard to use the word “please” when you’re screaming at someone, anyway.)
You knew from past experiences (and experiments) with me that when I say I’m going to do something, or not do it, I’m holding true to my word.
Had you not stopped crying, and not asked please, I wouldn’t have driven home the way you wanted. Perhaps that would have meant you would have cried and been upset the whole hour drive home.
Lucky for both of us, you learned the importance of how Daddy operates. With Daddy, there’s always a formula.
Get what you want by following the formula.
I’m about as stubborn as a computer, which doesn’t cave based on emotional responses. And I imagine, you will learn to become just as stubborn as I am, like that.
You’ve had My Pal Scout (by LeapFrog) since you were a newborn. He’s a toy you’ve literally grown up with. However, it’s now at age 2 and a half that Scout is truly relevant to your life more than ever.
Now that you can talk, it’s like Scout has truly come to life! He’s a real talking puppy… at least, I think that’s what you think.
Sometimes to stall going to bed, you’ll ask for socks from the closet, then see a toy you haven’t played with in the past 4 months; ever since you became obsessed with monster trucks, that is.
That happened to be the case with Scout.
“Jack, let me show you how to play with him. If you want to play games, just press this red ball of yarn on his paw,” I explained.
Scout began talking to you:
“Hi Jack, wanna play?”
In a half-second’s time of confusion, astonishment, and wonder, I saw your eyebrows go up as you excitedly and hesitantly replied with a smile, “Yeah!”
Then Scout continued to engage you: “My favorite animal is a giraffe. Jack, is that your favorite animal too?”
How could it be that this green puppy who has been hanging out in the closet has the same interests as you? He even likes bananas, as you do, and sang about them to you.
Granted, Mommy customized Scout online a couple years ago to say your name and interests. But to you, he’s a cool dog who can talk.
And so the bromance began. All last weekend, Scout was your buddy. You were sort of bummed that I wouldn’t let you take him to the zoo.
At least I let you eat dinner with him.
I think Mommy just needs to program Scout to say he likes monster trucks… then you’ll really be all set!
You have officially learned to spit. That’s both a good and a dangerous thing.
It’s good because it’s an important part of brushing your teeth. It’s a dangerous thing because I have to trust that you’re not going to spit at an inappropriate time or place.
I guess I make it more alluring for you to want to spit because over the past couple of months, I have taken up the Indian folk remedy of “oil pulling.”
Yes, I know it sounds weird. But two or three times a week on the drive to school, I swish coconut oil around my mouth for 20 minutes (it helps serve as a natural mouthwash and preventative of headaches for me) and then at the Nippers Corner crossing, I spit the coconut oil out my car window.
I always feel bad for whoever’s in the car behind me, especially if it’s a woman. I’m sure they assume I just got sick.
Each morning as you and I are getting ready to leave the house, you always ask me, “You gonna put that stuff in yo’ mouth?”
Watching me do my oil pulling is normal to you by now. However, I don’t think you’re totally clear on when it’s okay to spit.
With that being said, this past weekend on Mother’s Day, when Mommy told you that you couldn’t have a 2nd granola bar, but instead that you’d have to eat more of the main lunch she prepared for you, you acted like you were about to spit at her.
After I put you in a time-out session providing me with enough time for finish my own lunch, I had you apologize to Mommy:
“I sorry, Mommy.”
You saw how important it was for you to apologize, so then about 10 minutes later, you apologized to Mommy again.
Within the hour, you had begun using “I sorry, Mommy” as a new way to ask for things.
“I play with Play-Doh? I sorry, Mommy.”
I guess it’s an interesting spin on the saying, “It’s easier to ask forgiveness than to ask permission.”
While I am definitely more mindful these days of trying to avoid the use of bravado in my letters to you, I must admit, my ego took a bit of a hit when I recently had to start riding in the backseat with you.
Something always seemed awkward, if nothing else, about seeing a wife drive the car while the husband was in the front passenger seat.
Well, at least it’s not that bad. The new normal is that Mommy drives and I accompany you in the backseat.
I have relinquished my role as the family chauffeur; a role that I feel is supposed to be mine, as the dad and husband.
But, as I had hoped when I implemented this plan, you are a lot less anxious, needy, whiny, and hungry now that it’s me sitting next to you in the back seat.
You see Mommy as the nurturer, which she is.
However, with me, you just want to chill out. Either you contemplate your life, deep in thought, as pictured right; or you like to be goofy with me as we sing the few lines we know of the songs from The Lorax movie:
“How ba-a-a-ad can I be?”
I’m curious to see how our new driving method will work on our next road trip.
We drove two and a half hours to Alabama last month, but it felt more like five. There was nothing Mommy could do back there to make you happy. Plus, you needed a nap, but that never happened.
Since I’m not the nurturer of the family, I wonder if it will be easier for you to fall asleep in the car if it’s me back there with you next time.
It’s just that your expectations are so much different (and lower?) for me as your seatmate, as opposed to Mommy.
You treat us differently. You are much more low-maintenance with me; you always have been.
Like I’ve mentioned last July in “The Hunger Games: Toddler Edition,” you are not as hungry and you ask for food less with I’m the parent caring for you. You can go for hours without thinking about food if it’s just you and me.
But with Mommy, you’ll eat two meals in a row.
So for now, I’ll be your backseat buddy. I shall entertain you, make you lose your appetite, and bore you to sleep.