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Saturday, February 03, 2007

I'm just a boy with a new haircut

After all that talk about boys and aggression I started noticing Jasper's more girly ways -- and he does have some. His favorite superhero is Wonder Woman. His favorite train is Emily. In fact, he keeps telling me it should be Emily and her Friends, not Thomas and his Friends. And now it seems I've given him a girl's haircut.

I saw a little boy with extra-short, jagged bangs the other day and it looked so cute. So I tried to give him a Buster Brown look. Mind you, this was my very first attempt at cutting anyone's hair (besides a bang trim a few months ago) and have no idea what I'm doing. As for Buster Brown, it doesn't really translate in the 21st century, certainly not without a precious little sailor suit. He looks a little like my mother-in-law when she was a little girl in the 1930's. We have a photograph of her with almost the same haircut. Back on the farm during the depression people cut hair at home. Just like, er, I do

Well, anyway, last week's discussion got me thinking more about children's behavior in general. Swizzies' comment rant cracked me up. Sure she was a little hard on Jasper's friend, but people, the woman has good reason to be in a ranting mood.

That aside, Myrtle (let's call her that) was behaving in an age-appropriate manner, I'm afraid. She's learning about accountability and justice, but of course it's much easier to recognize someone else's naughtiness. And it takes longer to learn that your own actions affect others and that you must take responsibility for them (ugh, I'm still learning that one myself). Myrtle will learn that eventually, just as Jasper will someday learn that he can't solve problems by hitting. I hope so, anyway.

But how much interference is necessary? Are you a compulsive fight breaker-upper, or do you like your kids to sort it out themselves? I had a conversation with another mom about this question today, and got an e-mail on the subject as well. Jasper is on the small side. Shouldn't he learn how to defend himself? I can't always be there to referee. When we read Yellow Submarine and I tell him about how the Beatles defeated the Blue Meanies with love and music, is that really an effective lesson? How, exactly, is he supposed to apply that?

I've also been thinking about the irrationality of children's behavior in general. Particularly if you start having kids in your mid-30's and are accustomed to dealing only with adults, the little people can seem just insane. I can't tell you how many times I've told Jasper to QUIT BEING SO ANNOYING when he whines.

He's three, Mom, get over it. Put him to bed earlier/feed him better next time.

Worse, having children has made me even less tolerant of childish behavior in adults. I still recall the time I told an employee "this isn't kindergarten, you know!" because he was being such a needy little baby. This was not the most effective way to handle his behavior (ahem) but it certainly was cathartic.

I've thrown out a few potential threads (in a rambling kind of way) for discussion. Your two cents?

By the way, Jasper insisted this evening that I take a picture of his bum.


Anonymous said...

My rule of thumb (honed through many years of playgroup attendance and preschool volunteering) is that it's always okay to intervene if someone is hurting someone. I've not yet met a mom who objected to having their child told that hitting/bitting is not okay. But then, I do live in a liberal part of a liberal city, and my kids are young yet.

As for whining, it may be age-appropriate and completely explainable by irregularities in food/sleep schedule, but that doesn't mean you should tolerate it. The tried-and-true method used (with moderate to complete success) in my family is the "I'm sorry--did you say something? I can't understand you when you're whining." It's important to be completely consistent, and also to start before the habit of whining is too firmly entrenched, but what a difference!

The issue of peer influence on behavior is a real one. I'm not sure it ever occurred to me before having children of my own that I would run into situations where I liked the adults and wanted to hang out with them but didn't really like the way their kids influenced mine (whining, hitting, bad attitude, etc.). I'm still hoping for a few kids to get their acts together so we can have play dates and I can hang out with their moms. Sometimes the bad influences are impossible to avoid, however, like if it's a sibling who's the bad apple. In those cases you just have to hope for the best, I think.

Adriana Velez said...

Aw, poor Mabel. She's not a bad influence! I originally brought up the apology story because I found it amusing. She's actually a great kid and she and Jasper CAN'T get enough of each other.

I've yet to find myself involved with another family (kid) whose behavior is extreme enough that I don't want him/her around Jasper. That's interesting -- usually I'm just so thrilled to find another PARENT I click with that I don't really care what their kid does.

Anonymous said...

Yes - please post the picture of Mary taken back in the 30's. I have often thought how much Jasper looks like her. I'd love to see it. Thanks.

Hevansrich said...

being the mother of four young ones I should have some pearls of wisdom...but mostly I usually feel like i'm winging it.. I mostly want to get a shout out for Thomas and all of his friends, who are a huge hit at our house with Henry and with me, too. (Henry loved it when he was three, because the big green engine Henry is also #3). Jasper has great taste.