20 Aug 2009
You mention one word to ‘The Very Particular Girl’ and she constructs such vivid mental images that if put in words would fill a book.
The mother says ‘ice cream’ and ‘The Very Particular Girl’ imagines one scoop chocolate ice cream with sprinkles and M&Ms with a cherry on top, in a kids sized waffle cone. This to be had in the Cold Stone Creamery close to her house, sitting at the square table against the wall with three chairs around the table. She visualizes that her mother would be sitting next to her with a white plastic spoon on her hand. She visualizes that she is allowing her mother to swipe her ice cream from time to time and swatting her hands away at other times. She visualizes her younger sister sitting across from her eating vanilla ice cream with sprinkles and M&Ms in a kid sized sugar cone. She had already visualized what clothes the trio would be wearing.
If the mother had said ‘ice cream’ during an outing in which the little sister had not accompanied them…. no problem, she automatically assumes that they would go home, pick up the little one, change clothes and then go to the ice cream shop.
See the way the four-year-old mind works? She constructs an image, actually a movie clip, by gathering snippets from her past experiences. If the reality changes, the movie projection in her mind does not change. Her four-year-old brain is not that agile cognitively, so she changes reality in order to achieve her mental representation.
Of course reality being pretty real, there usually is a mismatch in the end result and the mental projection. Thus resulting in hands-flailing-legs-kicking-rolling-on-the-floor-tantrums. At times the mother has been afraid of ‘The Very Particular Girl’. There is no telling what ‘The Very Particular Girl’ is thinking and after the hoops the mother had jumped to do something that she thought would make ‘The Very Particular Girl’ happy, she had to face-ear-splitting-brain-melting-tantrums. Most disheartening of all, ‘The Very Particular Girl’ would come back home and pronounce the verdict that would descend on the mother like thunder “You made me very unhappy amma.”
After going through painfully small improvisations, one at a time, finally the mother and the ‘The Very Particular Girl’ have settled in to a routine. For anything activity they do, no matter how small it is, they draw up ‘A Plan’. A plan is nothing but a set of expectations, both the mother’s and ‘The Very Particular Girl’s’. Then they analyze what they can do if something unexpected happens and the plan goes haywire. The mother tells/warns at least 1000 times that one can only plan and life can throw surprises. The ‘The Very Particular Girl’ nods her head understandingly. Thanks to the plan, if something upsets ‘The Very Particular Girl’, she says, “But amma, that is not my plan.” The concept of ‘A Plan’ helps put things in perspective not only for the ‘The Very Particular Girl’, but at times also for her mother, because when you are a mother, you tend to just do things. In your heart, you are doing whatever you are doing in the best interest of your family. At times like that the little voice, filled with reproach helps the mother find her balance.
CAST AND CREDITS(Like you guys didn’t know all along!)
‘The Very Particular Girl’ – Chula
Mother – Yours Truly
[tags]Toddler tantrum, preschooler tantrums, how a child thinks, why do children throw tantrums[/tags]