Saturday, May 31, 2014

Second Fiddle

So I'm in Starbucks this morning, and among the many other people in the place with me were a mother and her young daughter. At one point, the mother answers her cell phone, and within a couple of minutes, the child, having become bored with not being the center of her mother's attention, takes to pounding on the arm of a nearby easy chair. After a couple minutes of this merry drumming, her mother looks up from her call, and asks her to stop.

"No." The child replies, without pausing.

This happened a couple more times, and the child drummed pretty much all through the mother's telephone call. Every time the mother would ask her to stop, the child would say "No," and continue on. It wasn't until the child realized the call was winding down that she relented.

When the mother finally finished her call, and confronted the child, she was clearly frustrated. But what did she expect? It was clear to me that the child had come to see her mother being on a phone call as a license to do as she pleased, since the mother was clearly unwilling to interrupt her call to intervene in whatever the child was doing. This isn't the kind of situation that develops overnight. It's going to be a good deal if work for the mother to re-establish her authority in the child's eyes. Making it clear that she's more important than the telephone might be a good start.

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