Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Shove and Shove Alike

We were visiting some great friends of ours recently and because Mrs. Blackwell was out on another one of her drinking binges working, it was just me and the boy at their home. 

Our friends have an adorable — and smart — little girl who happens to be about the same age as Master Blackwell.

She's a friendly lass who asks for the boy by name, so she's also a very aware little one. She actually asked where Mrs. Blackwell was too. Aware. Astute. Brainy. Whatever you call this little girl, she's it.  
We'll find out in about 16 years
if any of this worked.
One might expect that, in the presence of such a child, one's own child would rise to the occasion and up their game. One would be wrong. 

While our friends' daughter engaged, conversed and in general was a positive presence, Master Blackwell adopted the persona of some aloof rock star. 

If there was a toy that had more than a dozen components, he'd pick it up, pull it apart, drop it and move along to the next such toy. 

Because they're cool and hospitable, our friends didn't care — kids are kids right? At first, I didn't care either. Kids are kids but, by the time the boy disassembled his third or fourth such toy, I took note. 

As he meandered through the room, he would invariably zero in on their remote control and attempt to commandeer it. His efforts were thwarted but, I'll give him points for persistence and focus. 

After perhaps an hour of this show, we crossed a line and I was confronted with one of parenting's least enjoyable dilemmas.

It started out as a cute moment. The aforementioned sweet little girl approached my standoffish son and tried to play with him. In exchange for her efforts, my son shoved her to the ground. 

That moment — the one in which you watch your child act not just badly, but badly toward another kid — is a conflicting one.

First, you're embarrassed but you've got to act. That said, what do you do?

If you're me, you grab your kid, try your best to get their attention, make eye contact, and tell them, repeatedly, that shoving is not acceptable. 

And, if you're my son, you look right through your father like he's merely an obstacle between you and that elusive remote control. 

Where's this kid when you need him?
From my end, you have no idea if this resonates — until you find out that it didn't.

Such was the case when I retrieved the boy from day care earlier this week and learned from our provider that the boy shoved each and every kid (five in all) to the ground throughout the day. In response, she put the boy in timeout each time. 

I was hoping that she'd tell me that at least one of these kids retaliated and shoved Master Blackwell back. Yes, yes, yes. I know: two wrongs don't make a right. But one well-timed shove can certainly teach a valuable lesson. (Sorry but, thems the rules of the playground folks.) 

Alas, the boy did not get shoved in return. Maybe the timeouts will work. If not, maybe we'll have track down some mean kids for the boy to play with so he'll appreciate the friendly ones. 

Again, I know: this is not the approach of a sophisticated or even responsible parent. But, we're at that age when communication is staggered, messages are lost and confused. 

We want to be clear but sometimes we can't. Until we can — or until I can locate a 3 year-old thug-for-hire — it'll be time out for Master Blackwell. 

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