The Hess Report

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Lucy Gets the Spotlight

Lucy's been trying really hard to get a decent mention in the Hess Report, and she's finally managed. Good for her.

For reasons unbeknownst to Joy and I, Lucy is the sort of person who will, if left to her nature, set fire to a restaurant because she was hungry, no one noticed, and they should have, despite the fact that she had shown none of the traditional trappings of hunger, like, for instance, saying "I'm hungry."

I've been working with her lately to try to help her understand that clamming up and stuffing your head under a pillow when you have a problem is one of the least effective ways of solving it. And, if you're four and have more pride than King Kong, it can also lead you to engage in behaviors that will take you, how did I put it? "Down the fast lane to Butt Smack Village." I think I was channeling my Mom with that one, but I have the feeling that it's a little more intimidating coming from me that it was from her. No offense, Mom. But you're just not intimidating. Sorry.

Anyway, sometimes, a change of tactics midstream can work wonders. Lucy was really begging for a parental smack-down, going out of her way to drive all of us bats. She's quite adept at walking the line between actionable and non-actionable behaviors. Knowing that confronting her in front of everyone would have engaged her prideful defenses, leading to an ultimate showdown, I scoop her up and whispered:

"If you're having a problem, just tell me. There's no need to do this. And if you're embarrassed about it, you can whisper it back to me."

She put her lips up to my ears and hissed:

"I want some attention. Will you play school with me?"

Well. Okay. As easy as that. Good for her. Disaster averted, and she was sweet as pie for the rest of the evening.

I'm hoping that we can keep this up, and she'll learn that stating your problems up front is often the best way to getting them solved, as opposed to knee-capping your system because you can't find your favorite stuffed animal. Of course, stating her problems won't always get them solved exactly as she wants them to be, but she'll learn that people are generally willing to work with you as long as you're being both candid and polite, which is a fine line to walk. But as I said, she's already good at that.

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