Tuesday, January 8, 2008

our mugwump

My husband takes great delight in the similarity between his personality and that of his second son, 4 year old Thomas.

"A strong-willed child grows up to be able to stand for something" - at least, that's what Steve says, and he should know. Personally, I think God is showing Steve what he put his own parents through (much to Steve's amusement).

Thomas has two family nicknames: "mugwump" (for the spectacular tantrums he throws when his will is thwarted) and "stubborn old goat" (since we have never seen anyone except Steve - oh, and my father and brother, now I come to think of it, so I guess it runs in the family - so willing to stick to a position even when it no longer suits him to do so).

And before you complain that we should never negatively label children lest they live up to our expectations, let me assure you that these nicknames are spoken with great affection. My own childhood nickname was "GP" or "Great Procrastinator", and I'm aware of no deep emotional scars or lasting effects on my character. All part of the joy and fun of family, at least when nicknames are fondly spoken and well received.

Well, like many men, Thomas hates new clothes. When I dressed him in a pair of pyjamas he had never seen before this evening, he said "I don't like that picture" (a perfectly innocent depiction of a boy wearing a snorkel) and refused to put it on. From bitter experience, I knew that he would refuse the pyjamas on all future occasions if I didn't get them on him tonight.

I have found that the most effective way of dealing with a recalcitrant Thomas is to count "1 - 2 - 3" until imposing a threatened punishment. (I have counted to 3 about 1,000 times more often with Thomas than with either of my older, more compliant children. I do not exaggerate.)

As I got to "2", Thomas said "You do it, you do it!", since this represented a smaller loss of face than giving in and doing it himself. I helped him to put on the pyjama top (oh, what a flexible mother am I!) Battle won: 1 point to me.

Five minutes later I noticed that he had gone to his room, and switched his top around, so that the offending picture was now on his back rather than his front, and he no longer had to look at it. Battle drawn: 1 point each.

A creative solution which led to satisfaction on his part and giggles on mine.


Belinda said...

Great to have you back Jean- missed your musings (I'm not sure if that is how you spell it but I'm sure you know). Hope you had a fantastic holiday and look forward to hearing about your priorities for the year to come.

Ruth McIntosh said...

I love it! Dear Tommy! What a creative solution... So good to start today laughing with you - and Tom. love Ruth

Jess Green said...

Loved this one, Jean. I love the way you write Jean. And I was going to say 'Go Tommy!' but not sure if I am celebrating mischievousness. I love his thinking though:)