Thursday, 3 November 2011

you say potato

Snooks delighted an older lady the other day with a rendition of this Gershwin classic while sitting on a beach at Ryde in the Isle of Wight.

He had begun the song and faltered slightly leading her to mistakenly think that he may not remember all the lyrics to such a grown-up number. So she supplied the next line only for him to sing the whole song more or less word, note and intonation perfect.

At the point where the singer (in our collection, Ella Fitz) relents about calling the whole thing off “For we know we need each other so we better call the calling off off” he turned to me and grinned with a knowing beyond his years.

Snooks’ persistent contrariness has driven me to distraction. I have devoted more hours of thought, reading, weeping and talking to this subject than any other in my lifetime. Even the most elusive exes did not take up this much room in my head. He really does Drive Me Crazy.

So the song has become a fond joke between us, a pressure valve when his defiance in the face of every request is about to blow the roof off.

When I find myself sitting with my three year old, engaged in yet another “but you said/but I said” debate over whether he should get down from the table/brush his teeth/wash his hands/ get dressed/ pick up his toys/ go to bed/ stay in bed/ share/ say sorry/ be quiet or just simply listen, I resort to singing the song. It makes us laugh and it makes the point. And he gets it too.

However, it has changed nothing. First people said it was the house move, he would settle down. Then it was being an only (as my adult ‘only’ friend calls her kind) and nursery would sort it.

Occasionally he will comply, temporarily, if my fury has finally gone beyond his idea of fun (though this is quite a long way) but then he soon resumes his campaign which no stickers, no toys, no chocolates and no threats of punishment can weaken.

I do admire his will and as some have said, when they have run out of any other encouraging remarks to make, it will stand him in good stead later on.

But our current battle has taken me to my limits. My latest action is more reading (How to talk so kids will listen and listen so kids will talk) some withdrawing from society to save the stress of fighting in front of friends and some reaching out for help – to the same friends who thankfully understand.

Just as I was beginning to feel resentful of Snooks' constant resistance, I read somewhere that children with such great ‘control issues’ need to be able to let go and let the adults be in charge so that they can get on with being a child. It suddenly made me feel sorry for him again. It spoke to my desire to protect him and made me wonder if for some reason he is afraid to let us steer the ship.

Snooks seems to be afraid of very little. He is not keen on heights, he does not like being alone in the dark (who does?) and he’s never been mad about people pretending to be something else (see clowns, entertainers, face painting, fancy dress costumes, children’s television presenters and anyone who feigns interest in him). But other than that he is pretty much invincible.

But could it be that he is afraid that he is not safe with the Engineer and I at the helm?

If so, I don’t think even the great George and Ira can sort that one out

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