Sara is a journalist and editor.
My five-year-old son is like a thoroughbred: bright, quick, talented -- and explosive. He has always been this way, since birth. He can be the most charming, mature, and productive human being within a few miles. Rubbed wrong, however, he can go off like a rocket. We have been working on controlling his temper for a few years now, and it's coming along. Slowly. When he was three, I taught him the nursery rhyme about the little girl with the curl in the middle of her forehead. (When she was good, she was very, very good. And when she was bad, she was horrid.) After I recited the poem, I turned to him and asked if it reminded him of anyone.
When I first heard about the institution of time out, as a very young mother, the concept confused me. "You mean," I asked whoever it was who had told me about it, "that my three-year-old child is supposed to sit in one place -- and not get up -- for over ten seconds?" Like many small children, my son was not inherently capable of sitting still, what with so much to climb and touch and jump on in this world of ours. I am not a fan of many of the more conventional models of kinder-government. Instead, I was searching for a discipline method that best suited my individual child, a very bright and philosophical person for someone who was less than three feet tall.
Recently, I asked my five-year-old to get me something from upstairs. "Yes, your majesty," was his reply. The day before that, it was "Certainly, Miss Mommy". Last week? "Sir, yes, sir" and "Whatever you say, Lady." I can't decide whether this lack of respect upsets me or not. On one hand, he is being what my mother would have called "fresh." On the other hand, the atmosphere in the house is convivial and open. He talks to me, and tells me everything - things I'd have been afraid to tell my parents. I figure: I can deal with the insolence if it buys me honesty. Don't get me wrong; I am not one of these parents who will do anything to be popular with my kids. That is not my goal.
I am - was - a huge George Clooney fan. I used to call my husband in to watch Dr. Ross, because something this perfect had to be shared with a loved one. Until one day last year, when Jay Leno hosted Clooney on his show. Some of you may remember the episode. George was featured right before a group of quadruplet six-year-old girls. During the girls' interview, Clooney, as leading guest, remained onstage. I will never forget what he did when the giggly pink sisters first scrambled to sit themselves down: he very purposefully moved his chair WAY over, eyeing the noisy children suspiciously.
Erica Jong once said, "Advice is what you ask for when you know the answer, but wish you didn't." Here, then, is some advice for young couples wondering if he/she is "the one." You probably already know the answer to this, but it's difficult to swallow whole. So here's the question back at you, in nice, bite-size pieces (ask yourself one a day): 1. Do I feel trapped or liberated at the thought of living with him forever? 2.
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