Saturday, May 15, 2010

What?

If there is anything we wish to change in the child, we should first examine it and see whether it is not something that could better be changed in ourselves.
~Carl Gustav Jung

Today was just one of those days! First, I just have to say that my daughter was easy during the "why" stage. You know that time a young child asks why about everything? My daughter was inquisitive but also would accept "I will tell about that when your older" when it was appropriate. Now we are into the "what" stage.

If you are a parent, you know what the "what" stage is...or you most certainly will! It is the questioning reply to every question you ask. What? It is the word that is shot back at you when you call your child's name. What? When you are just looking at your child. What? It is the automatic, meaningless, mindless word that children say in any situation at any time and more often every situation all the time. What? Sometimes it is said drawn out: wha-at? Sometimes it is short and strong like an accented staccato note (for those who know a bit about music): WHAT! Sometimes it is a whine: what? Sometimes it is a dare with a glare: what! One little word expressed so many different ways! Obviously, by the time a child reaches that age of nine, she is highly accomplished in all the ways of saying "what", even so she will continue to practice it daily with diligence.

I also need to remind my dear readers that I have been busy for the last three weekends and the reason I have not been posting is because I am just emotionally and mentality spent. This weekend I was determined to spend some time in my herb garden in the morning before the afternoon sun hit it so today's gardening added the remaining physical aspect to my exhaustion.

This is when my child seems to get the best of me. At first, she was helpful and sweet. She, cheerfully and eagerly, cut back some plants as I asked her to do. (I so love my Princess when she is being a princess.) Then, as the sun approached bringing heat to add to my discomfort, as gardening is enjoyable but never comfortable, she began complaining and making little arguments. (She is so much like me!) Finally, I told her to put away her things, including her bike, and just go inside. She went for the bike first, touched it, and whined about it burning her.

This is the place where my patience wears thin, where my idealistic imaginings of a mother serenely playing with dirt and greenery while her daughter happily explores nature nearby is shattered by crashing reality that the child does not have that same imagery in her mind, not at all. I told her, at that point, as I wiped away droplets of hot sweat and stretching out that familiar ache in my legs and back, to just go in the house. I worked a bit longer, probably fifteen minutes, just long enough to shake off the disruptive happenings and go back into my own little happy place before I heard a light tapping on the dining room window from above. I looked up to see my daughter making some kind of motions, but because of the glare on the window I could not see what message she was signing to me, so I motioned for her to come out.

Thinking we both had cooled down, although the heat was bearing down as the shadow I treasured to protect me from the brunt of the sun dwindled noticeably with each moment, and that I could still restore some remnant of my sweet illusion, we talked a bit. With my regained patience, I calmly talked to her as a mother does with a child, who needs just a reminder of how to behave better in such situations. I listened to her verbalize her thoughts and explained how she could have done things differently, better. It started well, but about ten minutes later we were right back to that place she wanted to take me and I did not want to go. Again, complaining about her burning hot bike and, again, not putting it away as I had told her to do, I, again, told her to go back into the house.

Now I am drenched with the heat as the sunlight invades my working area. My muscles are warning me that the more I wanted to do is too much. I am disgusted with myself for how little I had done, but I realize that part of my child's problem might be that it is past lunch time. Back down I go to finish up at least this one last area. The aroma of jasmine blooming on my fence is soothing. I hear the familiar persuasions of a red shouldered hawk to his mate perched on more distant tree. Most of the weeds come up easily as this soil has been well worked over the years. This patch of my garden is looking rather tidy. Oh, that sweet scent of jasmine I love so much...tap, tap, tap.

I look up again at the dining room window wondering why the child does not just come out the door onto the deck and talk to me. I already had explained earlier that I could not see what she was signing because of the glare, yet there she is, again, making hand motions. Realizing the irony of this situation, I stand up and with that "what" shrug and mouth the word clearly. Being that she is well acquainted with the many ways to communicate "what," she could not claim misunderstanding. Still, she stays put in the dining room with a window between us while I, like a boiling tea kettle, scream "WHAT!" followed by "Come out here!" loud enough that the neighbors three houses down are then coming out. Still behind the window in the cool of the house, she makes more hand motions, as if she cannot hear me. Perhaps she could not, which would support my thoughts that it be far more logical for her to come out the door. I then quite exaggeratedly motion for her to come outside, which she finally does and what do you think the first word out of her mouth is...?

What?

My Lord, I thank you for this memory, for I know there will be a time when my daughter with have her fill of "what" in her own life and I will be giggling as I recall this day.

3 comments:

  1. *snigger* And a teenager can get more attitude into her "what?" than an 11 yr old. *snigger*

    Then they turn into adults whose "Whaaaat?" can be heard 3 doors down. *snigger*.

    I was once informed roundly that I was lowering the tone of the neighbourhood because when I wanted a child I stood in the middle of the road & bellowed their name. In my defence they had the run of 50 acreas & it was the only way to get the particular child you wanted. I developed *very* good lungs when they took to the water ~ & they quickly developed *mother deafness.* ☺

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  2. aah, the "what" stage, I don't envy you that one at. all. I'm still in the why stage and mine are never content with I'll explain when you're older.

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  3. Ganeida: Some parents use whistles. We use walkie-talkies when she is outside or at a neighbor's house.

    As to selective deafness, my uncle developed deafness to the tones of my aunt's voice. It is documented! And, unfortunately, that seed is already planted in the rich mind of my daughter and she has tried using it...tried.

    Birbitt: All the stages that everyone told me would be so bad were easy with her and the ones about which they did not warn me...those were the ones that were tough. Terrible 2s? She was a dream at 2, however 3...that was a bit more challenging. No one said much about the "what" stage, but plenty of people have warmed me about the when she becomes a teen. So, if this pattern continues, I will have more of a challenge with her now than when she is a teen. I think I am okay with that!

    Didn't I say this child was a lot like me? Never do what they expect when it is expected. Always keep them in a constant state of surprise. Too bad for her I know that strategy very well.

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Thank you fellow travelers for walking and talking with me along this journey.