Hundreds of years ago, little kids tagged after their mamas, tugging at their aprons and long skirts to get their attention.
And for all the changes the centuries have brought us, nothing has really altered this child-mommy interaction. Sure, jeans have replaced the skirts. Yet kids still follow their moms, constantly after their attention. Unfortunately, skinny jeans just aren’t as tuggable as the skirts and aprons of the past, so kids have resorted to a new attention-getting tactic: they use their voices.
To illustrate, over the course of just 10 minutes:
“Mummy, look at this!” (Wow, what a lovely drawing!) “Mummy, can I have something to eat?” (Finish the rest of your lunch and then we’ll talk.) “Mummy, you be the wicked stepmother and I’ll be Cinderella.” (All right, the Stepmother says Cinderella has to stay in her room til it’s completely cleaned.) “Mummy, I need medicine.” (Nice try, I know you’re only after the sugary taste of that delicious Tylenol). “Mummy, will you color with me?” (Sure, after I finish cleaning the bathroom.) “Mummy, can I help clean?” (Uh- sure. Here’s a cloth.) “Mummy, draw me a picture of a happy car and a happy train and a happy vacuum.” (Sigh.) “Mummy!” “Mummy!” “Mummy!” “Mummy!” “Mummy!” “Mummy!” “Mummy!” “Mummy!” “Mummy!” “Mummy!” “Mummy!” “Mummy!” “Mummy!” “Mummy!” “Mummy!” “Mummy!” “Mummy!” “Mummy!” “Mummy!” “Mummy!” “Mummy!” “Mummy!”
I would tear my hair out, but its hold on my head is already tenuous enough thanks to frequent dye jobs to cover the gray which I’m pretending I don’t have but totally do. Happily for my tresses, I’ve found a somewhat easier solution to the constant attention-demanding that can drive me right over the wall into Crazyland.
I call it Crouching Mama.
Let me explain. When you’re just over 3 feet high, everything above you– the mommy-and-daddysphere–seems so far away. It’s like a whole different world, a whole life that you aren’t part of. So when you try to attract your parents’ attention, their words, coming down from on high, are equally far removed from the small little world you live in. It’s like a voice over a loudspeaker– it’s saying words, but is it actually paying attention to you?
I’ve found that when the Maiden starts the verbal tugging routine, she’s much happier if I crouch down to her level and talk to her there. I make eye contact and speak directly to her, rather than down from a lofty 5-foot-6-and-a-half (yes, the half-inch matters!).
And she loves it. It’s like she feels that I’m exclusively focusing on her– and essentially, that’s what it is. There are so many distractions up on my level, so many things all around me that need attending to. When I talk to her from up above, she senses that my mind is on the dishes, the ping of new email, or the dinner that’s burning on the stove. But when I crouch down, look in her eyes, and give her those two minutes of total attention, she knows that right there, at that moment, it’s just she and I.
And she’s satisfied. In fact, she’s so satisfied, she no longer needs to tug my jeans or barrage my ears with constant “Mummy”-this and “Mummy”-that. I think preschoolers tend to incessantly chatter to their parents because, due to their height, they always feel a little left out of the exciting things that happen over the five-foot level. When we show them that we care about their little worlds, too, they’re content.
And so, by extension, are we!