I went biking with Naomi the other day. We were spinning along the empty road and she was prattling on cheerfully, as is her wont. Suddenly she let out a big fart. “That was a good one!” she exclaimed. Brotherly influence and all that, I assume.
Normally I’d have made a face, and moved on. But now that time isn’t of the essence, I asked, curiously, “What makes a fart a good one?”
“When I push hard and it all comes out,” she explained, grinning.
Candid conversations of a more serious sort happen too.
“Milo, I really don’t know what to do with you. You’ve been disrespectful and rude all morning. This isn’t a good trajectory. I want to enjoy your company, but I can’t let you behave like this.” Pause. I feel hopeless at his atrocious behavior and now I’m curious. “Milo, why are you acting like this?”
“Well, I’m act like that because Naomi is stupid and mean. She squawks when I just walk by, and then I get in trouble.”
“Hum, you feel like it’s not fair that you get in trouble when Naomi’s been part of it too?”
Long pause. “Sometimes Naomi can be annoying, eh? But you know Milo; in life, you can only control your own actions. You can’t control anyone else’s.” I thought for another minute. “If you can’t behave yourself around Naomi, maybe you’ll have to stay home when we go out this afternoon.” The child doesn’t know how to play by himself, so by the time Naomi and I got back home, he was quite glad to have her company.
And surprisingly, he was much more pleasant to be around for the next couple days.
Naomi’s interpretation of the dynamic was simple. I told her their noisiness and discord was driving me nuts. Why oh why do they do that? She went explained her mode of operation in simple terms that even a mother could grasp:
“You get angry, then you squawk, then you laugh; that’s how you do it!”