My 2 ½ year old grandson slipped off the couch where he had been doing ‘time out’ and approached his father. Could he do it again, he asked? He had thought they were playing a fun game.
Eden’s dad had explained to him that that he shouldn’t jump on the bed because he could hurt himself. Eden had only been doing what every child has at one time or another done, since the dawn of time. He had absorbed the words and repeated the mantra to the adults in his vicinity. Ten minutes later he was back on the bed and jumping.
What misleads us all is Eden’s decent vocabulary and his facility to repeat in context what he hears. I don’t think he understands the concepts or the consequences yet. Eden has been told that coffee is hot and thankfully he stays away from the stove, but what does the term hot actually mean to him? At around the same age, his cousin touched a hot grill and burned her hand. She understands hot now.
Not that long ago Eden was a placid baby who lay quietly in his cot waiting for someone to come in and pay him some attention. Ever since he has upsized to a big boy’s bed Eden has taken matters into his own hands. He slips out of his bed and visits his parents at five in the morning to greet them with a chirpy hello. No matter how many times he has been told, Eden doesn’t yet understand about sleep-ins. He only knows that he has had his beauty sleep and feels energised. His mother tells me that he marches up and down the corridor singing his favourite nursery rhymes and telling himself stories. Life is all about swimming lessons, going to the zoo, and playing with his friends. And of course, there’s turning the bed into a trampoline. Life is a happy game that begins at the crack of dawn and only improves as the day goes on. Improves for Eden, that is. His parents suspect him of being a terrible two. If that is the case, I suspect it of being a very mild form of it.
I wanted Eden to get back into his pram the other day, but we were at the local shopping Plaza and he was having too much fun running round and absorbing the sights, sounds and smells of his surroundings. Come back, Eden, I said. Time to go home, I explained. He stopped and looked back, giving me his best grin, one foot forward poised to take flight. Mum’s waiting to see us, I said to no avail. I tried several tactics including telling Eden goodbye and walking off. I hid behind a pillar and looked out to see what he was doing. Eden just stood his ground, grinning at the joke, daring me to back up my threat. I was finally forced to catch him, pick him up and place him in the pram. Reason hadn’t worked so I resorted to every parent’s alternative. It’s called the ‘me-Tarzan-you-Jane’ recourse.
There’s a bag of tricks available to parents that they dip into when a situation arises or an incident takes place. Some are generic and others are inspired ideas born of desperation and despair. Eden’s daddy tells him a story: There was a little boy called Eden who jumped on the bed. He fell and broke his arm. The doctor said he couldn’t play with his friends and he couldn’t go swimming (Eden’s favourite activity) for a very long time. Eden was bombarded with this story after each jump. It finally worked, which proves that (as St Thomas of Aquinas is reputed to have said) ‘Repetition is the mother (or father?) of all learning’ and that my children are superior models of the original.