Yesterday, I found…

Yesterday, I found myself saying firmly, "When mommy calls you, you should come right away," and "I don't want to have to shout." I sounded JUST like my mother, and now I have parental angst. Are those reasonable things to say to your kid, or am I just echoing words I heard a thousand times growing up? (Or both?)

Kavi is a good kid, and usually wants to be helpful to her parents, but she is easily distracted sometimes, and can get a little fixated on finishing her picture or organizing her ponies in a row or whatever else she's doing.

Our house is big, and I get tired of calling for her, over and over. (Yes, often I'll go to her, but sometimes that's difficult, such as when I'm cooking something complex, or when I'm in the midst of changing Anand's diaper.)

But I remember being annoyed, as a kid, that my mom kept insisting I always drop whatever I was doing and come right away, as if her thing was always more important than my thing. To be fair, Kavi is 5, and when I was feeling this way, I think I was more like 12 or so. Thoughts?

8 thoughts on “Yesterday, I found…”

  1. Why not append “now” to the times you need her now and “5 minutes” to the times you need her soon? If you can give her that warning to wrap up what she’s doing, why not?

  2. It’s not really that predicatable — I call her often (food’s ready, get your shoes on, clean this up, etc.), and most of the time, she can just come. I don’t know off-hand when she’s going to be slow.

  3. My experience with Katie is that the next step is for the child to try to force you to come to her. Oh yes, that has happened all along, but suddenly child believes she is equal to the parent and tries to imitate all behavior. (“Mommy, I’m calling for you!”) At that point I realized that forcing her to come when I called and rejecting her attempts to do the same to me (for everything except emergencies like bleeding ouchies) is just sanity.

    I think it is reasonable to enforce respect for parents and that includes coming when she is called. Once she is older, you can make more nuanced calls, but at Kavi’s age I don’t think that’s reliably possible.

    And of course, there is always the age-old supplement of “one….two….two and a half….two and 2/3….” My kid will know the progression of fractions in no time!

    If you really dislike calling her, then you have to work your schedule around hers and plan ahead “As soon as Dora is over…” and “When the alarm clock goes off…” and “in 10 minutes…” Of course for the latter to work, you have to teach your kid time and I recommend putting that off as much as possible. While I don’t believe in lying to a kid, parental treatment of time with the young is …shall we say malleable. Before they know how to tell time you can have this conversation:

    “It’s time for bed.”
    “No, it’s not.”
    “Yes, it really is. In fact past your bedtime”

    and send your cranky kid to bed at 7:00 instead of their more normal 8:00 (or 9:00) in good faith because you KNOW that it is good for them. Once they tell time, much parental flexibility disappears! Or at least you need to be more blatantly upfront about it.

  4. I have a variation of this complaint with DH. A lot of times, when I am yelling repeatedly across the house, I’m not sure whether he hasn’t heard me or whether he heard but is deeply engaged in something and needs a minute to switch gears. I don’t need him to come immediately when I call, but I’d like it if he would at least verbally acknowledge the request. Is that a potential compromise for you? Not demanding that she drop everything and come right away but asking that she at least acknowledge that she heard you? (Not sure if the issue is that you have to yell a bunch of times because there’s no response or if it’s that she is running a delaying action to try to get out of doing what you want? If the latter, asking that she at least respond doesn’t address that.)

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  6. Well, I think 5 yo’s do well with structure, which makes it mostly predictable. Certainly with food, you know 5 minutes before it’s ready that it will be? Does something need to be cleaned Right. Now. or just in the next 10 minutes? The only time something needs to be done NOW is 1. you told them 5 minutes ago, and now it’s 5 minutes later or 2. they’re actively putting themselves in danger (or a sibling or plant). I think kids learn how to behave from watching you – if you can demand instant gratification, so can they. Isn’t it better to set an example of only making it an emergency when it is one?

  7. I ended up posting this on Facebook too, and there were almost 40 comments to it. I think I end up with Ben, in the last comment (which is really mostly putting together a bunch of the previous comments, in terms of recommendations), i.e., a range of clearly-coded requests is probably best for both respecting autonomy, teaching politeness, maintaining family harmony, and keeping her safe in emergencies.

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