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So said the great Dr Seuss.
To extrapolate that, every child is a unique person and his or her personality cannot be mixed up with that of his/her siblings or even, parents!
Nobody exemplifies this better than Little a! Little a, as you may have noticed, if you have read even a few posts in this blog, is such a unique personality, that we are still scratching our heads about who he resembles, if at all! Here's the first post where I introduce Little a
in all his glory, if you are interested!
The psyche of Little a!
Yesterday, we had a mountain of laundry to tackle. So, hubs designated the brothers to help out by folding their own clothes from the pile of washed clothes. Big A immediately got to task. It's not that he's very obedient; it's just that his personality is such that he's a little intimidated by hubs, even though he loves and admires him. Little a, however, suffers from no such problem.
He refused. Hubs gave him a warning; he then threatened a time-out; he doled out punishments; he tried all kinds of intimidation tactics, and finally, got completely frustrated and shouted.
It was like talking to a brick wall. Little a just sat there with a stubborn look on his face, his hands folded, his lips puckered; the very epitome of defiance. The shouting escalated very fast and soon Little a was howling, but still stuck to his chair. Hubs finally dragged him to his room for a time-out, threatening to keep him there until he obeyed. All the while, Big A kept up a steady stream of urgent whispers to Little a to "just listen"!
This scene happens once in a while, but each time it seems to catch us by surprise. It is difficult for us to understand why a child would undergo all that 'torture', accept all the loss of privileges, and be willing to go through time-outs rather than perform the simple task of folding a few clothes! Mind you, the act of folding clothes is not alien to him; he has done it with great enjoyment at other times; it is just that this time, he was TOLD to do it, which is the reason that he dug in his heels.
Contrast that with Big A's attitude....Big A will whine and moan and crib, but he will get going on the task because he is afraid of the consequences. Little a will take all the consequences he gets; he will cry when he knows that he is being punished but he still will not do what you tell him to do!
So, coming back to the ugly scene, nothing was moving; Little a's howls were now reaching across the street and hubs' yelling to try and out-shout him, just to be heard over Little a's screams; was causing major headaches for the rest of us! Hubs and I decided to regroup and, since he had been the bad cop all this time, it was time for me to step in with a different strategy!
I walked up the stairs closer and closer to the earth-shaking banshee wails. I took with me a basket of books that we keep next to our bed when the kids want to be read to. I plonked the basket in front of Little a and bellowed to him that he may want to take a book from there. His wails rapidly plunged to a lower pitch as his brain started processing what I just said. The sudden variation in tone was startling and I lowered my own voice with relief. I then told him that this basket was now the time-out basket and he should stay in his room and 'read' a book till he decided to behave.
"But," he said, voice quivering, "I don't want to stay here all by myself."
"You did not listen to Dad, so you must stay for 10 minutes while you think about your behavior." I said firmly and walked off, rather hastily, before the siren started. It actually didn't.
After about 5 minutes (since he cannot tell time yet), I heard him hesitantly traipsing down the stairs. A little head then peeked from around the stairwell and I heard a tentative voice asking if he could come out of his room now.
"Well", I said, "have you thought about what Dad asked you to do?" Immediately, I see the pigheaded spark awake in his eyes and threaten to take over his features yet again.
"Tell you what!, I say hastily, because I cannot stand the Tempest blowing my eardrums again, "let's play a game! I'll count 20 and you fold five pieces of your clothes, okay?"
Immediately, his face lights up and he nods enthusiastically. Pausing only long enough to tell me to count to 'tirty two' instead of 'twenny', he grabs a bunch of his clothes and sets about making neat piles of them, smoothing the folds as he goes, as is his habit since he was an infant.
Hubs and I exchange glances and shrug our shoulders. We're still not sure how this little person works!