Tag Archives: kid psychology

Bee Stings and Toddler Vengeance

As you’ve probably guessed, I’m pretty fond of my kids and of being a mom, overall. Maybe it’s the whole dedicated-parenting-blog-thing that gave it away, or how I kind of flipped out on the anti-child childfree folks a while back…

But I have to admit that I’m a bigger fan of kids than I am of babies. Don’t get me wrong… I loved my babies to pieces and they’re incredibly fun (whenever they aren’t waking you up every 47 minutes for nights on end or irrationally screaming whenever you venture into public space) except they don’t really do much.

No… for me, the really fun part happens at the latter stages of three, working up through five or more, after kids start really grasping the English language and expressing all the raw, unbridled notions in their heads. You can see how humans think when they still believe magic is possible and before they’ve been properly socialized or learned how to fake being “normal.”

Take, for example, what happened a couple days ago when Bridget (3) was stung by a bee in a bush in our front yard right before our family took our evening walk and then her sister Brontë (5), being a kid herself, figured out the best way to comfort her…

Bidgie: BWAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!

Me: OW! It’s okay…

Bidgie (bright red and screaming): BWAAAAAAA! WAAAAAAAAAH!

Me (grabbing her arm in concern): Show me!

(I see a welt around a red spot and try to compare the two arms for swelling. I secretly worry about whether my kid has a bee sting allergy and quietly check her face and throat for signs that she’s right about to dangerously swell up while trying to cover up my secret panic… as Bridget nonstop screams)

Bidgie: WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!

(Neighbors start looking over with concern)

John (after picking out the stinger): It’s all red. Let’s get you some ice to make it feel better. Daddy has been stung by lots of bees and hornets and jellyfish and it will feel better really soon…

Bidgie (furiously clawing the air in her rage): BWAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!

Brontë: You know what? That bee is gonna die for stinging you.

Bidgie (raising her eyebrows): Yeah?

bee.jpgHer sister’s comments cut the screaming short so fast, I could almost hear a record screeching in the background. We took Bidgie inside to put a bag of frozen peas on her arm and she was 100 percent better, ten minutes later.

Turns out, she isn’t allergic to bees (whew) and Brontë was obviously paying attention to the bee nature videos I had rented from the library.

You see, Brontë had a deathly fear of bees herself, so I’d grabbed a bee video, wondering whether increased knowledge would help her conquer fears of the frightening unknown (as it does with me) and I ended up being started by the unblinking fascination she held for the life of bees.

“They die when they sting you?” she asked me.

“Yes,” I told her. “The stinger falls out in your skin and they die.”

She nodded solemnly, contemplating the cosmic balancing scales, tucking away this newly-discovered fact for an opportune moment… such as when comforting her baby sister after just being stung by a bee.

See… the fact that Bridget would scream, nonstop, despite all of her parents’ attempts at comfort, would make one think that the pain itself was prompting hysterics. Except she quit the very second her sister revealed that the culprit would die…

Which means that Bridget’s screaming was less about the pain than a general feeling of gross injustice: here she was, minding her own business when this furry insect flies over and painfully stings her in an unprompted show of aggression…

And the moment her sister explained that this lunatic would be sentenced to death, Bridget calmed down and mustered the internal fortitude to carry on with toddler dignity.

It’s a primitive justice, to be sure. Most adults would consider how the animal was just protecting itself and consider celebrating its death to be somewhat macabre.

But it demonstrates how one’s sense of justice is wired early on. Convince a kid that something is “fair,” and they’ll get surprisingly reasonable.

We ate honey on our toast the next morning.

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

My Daughter Resorts to Shapeshifting to Get My Attention

IMG_2256
Carseat sticker wars

Since my husband and I were both only children, we knew we were entering a brave new world by having two kids. We did our best to give them both attention and encourage them to be nice to each other.

And they DO love each other… most of the time.

But we’ve learned that no matter how much you encourage siblings to get along, they’re going to bicker and vie for your attention. Whenever I’m holding Brontë (my three-year-old) on my lap, for example, Bridget will ask to be held too. I’ll plop her on the opposite leg where, without fail, she will s l o w l e y inch over in tiny increments until Brontë is effectively smeared off the other side.

It’s both touching and frustrating to watch your kids fight for your cuddles, but then again, they also fight over toys, snack, cats, cardboard boxes, and take pleasure in annoying each other on principle.

Because that is what siblings do and I’m starting to think that’s Nature’s intention.

Why? Well, it’s a sort of rivalry that stirs up competition and what is life without some friendly competition? We’ve been doing it ever since the first fish managed some flip legs, said “see ya, suckers,” and crawled onto the shore to found the amphibians.

IMG_1919
Still buddies, despite all the bickering

And I can’t help noticing how this competition is sparking creative leaps and bounds in my kids, so maybe it’s not all bad.

Ever since they’ve wrapped their minds around the idea that direct aggression, AKA might-makes-right maneuvers, are forbidden in this house, they’ve had to evolve from punching each other in the face to far more subtle tactics.

For example, Bridget has figured out that big sister likes to do things by the book, even when those things are silly.

Case in point: When I’m driving them around, whenever we drive through a tunnel or long overpass, I start yelling, “AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!’ The kids picked up on this early and like to do it too.

Why? Because it’s fun, that’s why. One great thing about kids is how they don’t question mommy’s bizarre behavior. “Because it’s fun” makes perfect sense to them and they see no reason to question it further.

But even silliness needs to follow the rules, in Brontë’s book, so it didn’t take long for Bidgie to figure out that yelling thirty seconds BEFORE you enter the tunnel will drive sister up the wall.

So as soon as a tunnel is within sight, Bidgie will start yelling, which drives Brontë into flailing hysterics. “NO! NOT YET SISTER! NOT YET, BRIDGE-JIT,” Brontë screams as baby sister giggles maniacally and yells as loudly as she can.

Then, the moment we enter the tunnel, Bidgie goes dead silent, making Brontë throw up her arms and scream, “NOW, SISTER! WE YELL NOW!” Bridget clamps her lips together with true conviction as big sister flips around, demanding that everyone scream.

Brontë doesn’t forget these indignities, of course, and pays her sister back every morning.  Brontë is what people call a “morning person,” popping out of bed at the crack of dawn like an over-caffinated meadowlark.

Bridget, on the other hand, takes after me… not a morning person by anyone’s definition.

So when I say it’s time to wake up Bridget, Brontë lights up and wants to go too. As soon as I open the door to the girls’ room, Brontë races over to the crib, throws back her head, and screams “GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOD MORNING BABY SISTER!” at the top of her lungs while Bidgie winces.

“TIME TO WAKE UP!” Brontë yells, giggling as she reaches through the crib bars to poke at her groaning sister. Bridget always scowls, though she is somewhat comforted by the knowledge that she will be tormenting her sister throughout the evening by flipping lights on and off (after figuring out that Brontë is scared of the dark, Bridget learned how to work the light switch real quick).

This has all been incredibly entertaining to watch, but while I’ve been impressed by both of my daughters’ creativity, this week’s prize for manipulative genius must go to Brontë…

Whenever I’m in the middle of doing something with Bridget (changing her diaper, feeding her, etc), Brontë suddenly has an “emergency” that needs attention. Maybe she suddenly wants to go use the potty, or “accidentally” trips and hurts herself.

Tired of Brontë lighting fires whenever I was in the middle of something, I started telling her she needs to wait her turn, that I was dealing with Bridget at the moment and she needs to be patient.

But kids are nothing if not quick character studies, and Brontë has figured out that making momma laugh is one of her most effective tools.

IMG_1661
Next time don’t blink

So when I was holding Bridget the other day, I heard screams coming from my bathroom…

“AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!” Brontë yelled at the top of her lungs. I raced in to see what the problem was:

Brontë: MOMMA, HELP! I’m turning into a mermaid!

Me: A mermaid? You have a tail instead of legs?

Brontë: No, I’m a kid again. You missed it.

 

Good show, Brontë… Good show.