Monday, June 8, 2009

Say "laundry basket" for Mommy

I spoke to a child psychologist once at a social event.

“You know,” she said, “it is alarmingly difficult to detect child neglect or abuse over the age of two years.”

“Really?” I was surprised. “Over two, don’t they just tell you?”

My firstborn was still a baby. The mere thought of child neglect seemed akin to terrorism or nuclear holocaust. A mere whimper from Andrew would bring a full arsenal of motherly attention.

“Children exhibit masking behaviors. You know, they’ll go get food out of the pantry themselves. Often, left to their own devices, they won’t even eat too badly. Kids learn to cope. They get what they need, but don’t realize the mistreatment is unusual. They are really smart.”

The conversation sunk to the back of my mind as I moved to find another drink.

The other day, after George had been quiet for a few minutes, my girlfriend (who was over enjoying coffee while our girls played) found George before I did – on the laundry room floor, enjoying the spoils of Gladys’ leftover preschool lunchbox.

I laughed politely and quickly prepared a healthy snack for the three children.

My friend may have assumed that it was unusual behavior, but I know differently. George does take care of himself in many ways. He can put his own shoes on, find a cup and get water, and even eat peanut butter out of the jar with a spoon (Yes, he can push the chair over to the pantry and find it himself – don’t ask me why I know that, okay.) He can also open yogurt, insert straws into Capri Sun juice bags, and make scrambled eggs (alright, maybe not the eggs).

If you ask me, I’ll assure you that it is all a sign of independence – excellent parenting.

But, I haven’t forgotten the conversation. I nod my head to myself. Yes, he’s a third child. Yes, he copes, but he certainly isn’t neglected. He takes a little roughness from his siblings, but they seem to have settled down. Well, he doesn’t call his head his ‘ow’ anymore. That is a good sign.

I matched socks yesterday and tossed them pair by pair into a laundry basket. George ran over, hands outstretched.

“One! Two! One! Two! Go!”

I instinctively threw the sock-ball to him.

“Nice ball, Mom!”

The sock bounced off his chest onto the floor, so he gleefully grabbed it and threw it in the laundry basket. He pointed to it proudly.

“In the cage, see? In the cage!”

Suddenly, I understood the game my children played last week.*

And, I pledged to avoid child psychologists in the future, just in case.
*Something about Gladys sitting on a laundry basket with George underneath. He learned the word cage. I suppose they were honest, at very least.


Flea said...

Bwahahaha! Your kids are still so young! And that is SO normal! Child psychologists are mostly full of crap anyway.

Oatmeal Head, when he was potty training, would take off his training pants in the back yard and fling out the poo so I wouldn't know he was going. Stinker. He could do that, since it was all he was wearing. Talk about good parenting.

Indy said...

Cage-that's perfect for the third child. As the oldest, I know that we would taunt our little sister and put her in baskets and call them cages. Wait until they tell him he is adopted. LOL. I love that he can do so many things. Can I lend you Ryan and you can train him?

MIT Mommy said...

Flea - That is hilarious. But, just in case, I don't think I want Oatmeal Head babysitting my kids =).

Indy - Ryan doesn't have to do all those things. He's gotten to be such a sweet young man, I'd be happy to do it for him.

Daisy said...

so funny - and mildy disturbing, but only in the way that a psych would misinterpret the incident. "Normal is what you live with" is the phrase I've heard. Your kiddos are normal in the best ways!