Monday, June 22, 2009

Curmudgeon's parenting skills in evident decline

I mentioned Friday that Long Suffering Spouse's college roommate, Penny, was coming to visit. She and her husband, Carl, who retired a couple of years back as a major in the Marine Corps, have four adopted children, 17, 13, and a pair of two-year old twins, Tim and Tom, who came to Penny and Carl as critically ill preemies.

Penny, Carl and the younger three children were at our house Friday evening. Tim and Tom were the hit of the evening, Tom especially, since he is more mobile, verbal and curious than his brother. (Preemies, especially preemies as ill as these two were, often lag behind developmentally. Tom is starting to catch up.)

Carl and I were sitting in the living room, sipping stimulating beverages, watching as Tom poked around everything.

The key word in the preceding sentence is "poked." Because at one point Tom found the floor-standing fan that we use to keep air circulating in the house. (Even with the air conditioner on, as it was Friday, we find that keeping fans going helps keep the temperature more even and takes some of the strain off the A/C... and, if it saves me a couple of nickels as well as the environment, well, that's OK, too, isn't it?)

Tom couldn't quite reach the face of the fan, but he could feel the breeze and he tried poking at the blades with his fingers.

I never really thought he'd actually get his fingers through the protective covering and into the whirling blades -- but stranger things have happened and, as he, I and the fan were on the same side of the living room, I took it upon myself to discourage him.

"No," I told him, "you mustn't touch," and I gently moved his hand away.

So far... so good, right?

Well, no.

When the kid moved his hand down on the column of the fan he found the buttons that operate it. Buttons! Buttons are a great thing to press, especially when they make an immediate result, such as making the breeze bigger, or slowing it....

My attempts to discourage Tom from pressing the buttons, failed spectacularly: Tom kept pressing buttons with increasing enthusiasm. Ultimately Carl was forced to launch a diversionary maneuver. As I recall, he used blocks.

Afterward, I asked Carl where I had gone wrong. "You did nothing terrible," said Carl, "you explained to him quite calmly and logically why it was a bad idea to press those buttons. Of course, you also showed him exactly how to press those buttons as you did so."


Empress Bee (of the high sea) said...

well frankly curmy i think you did splendidly! i have no patience with 2 year olds, i would have put it up and got him yelling and then given him sugar to shut him up, making him worse of course, then i would have feigned sleepiness and gone to bed, but that's just me!

smiles, bee

sari said...

ha! that's a good one. :-)