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Thursday, 15 November 2007

Adrian Pascal and Jellybeans

By Lia of the Yum Yum Café blog

In Germany, they have a series of tests children take from the first ten minutes after birth, until the children are eight or nine years old. These tests are supposed to monitor whether our children are developing “normally”. My children had the tests done until they could speak, run, play, and beat me at memory games - so, until they were two or three years old.

After that, I stopped taking them for their tests because I figured they were as “normal” as any doctor could judge in a half and hour*. I also suspected that these tests might not only be there to record a child’s development, but also to assure the parents that their child’s behaviour or misbehaviour is just a part of their momentary development.

The following story is one in our family journal. It is one of my favourites because the experience really brought home how ridiculous are expectations we have sometimes about our children’s behaviour.

My mother has some American friends who have an only son, Adrian Pascal. Adrian Pascal is the same age as my daughter, Sara. Now, for all the wonderful attributes my mother’s friends have as parents, they are somewhat anxious and competitive parents.

When our children were two years old, the two families had the occasion to share a few days together in Grenada. It was just one of those fluke phases when Sara was an angel: she delighted in “swimming” in any water or playing in the sand, was verbally articulate and amusing, ate her food neatly and with a good appetite, went for a nap when she was tired, and woke up with a smile on her face.

Unfortunately, Adrian Pascal was drowning in his Terrible Twos and didn’t do any of these things.

The more Adrian Pascal showed himself from his spoilt, possessive, loud, troubled and well, (normal) terrible-two-side, the tenser his parents became. My husband and I tried to stay away from commenting on Adrian Pascal’s behaviour because there was the risk that if we said anything consoling they would interpret this as being condescending, or if we gave them any advice they would see this as criticism.

The whole Angel/Tyrant dynamic between Sara and Adrian Pascal escalated into what our family now refers to as the Jelly Bean Episode. We were all sitting together on the terrace, just having finished eating lunch, talking about whether we had time for a cup of coffee or not. Lunch had been a Difficult Affair. Adrian Pascal suffered having another child sitting next to him quietly eating her lunch, while he kept his parents on the edge of their seats with all of his demands and antics.

Even though he hadn’t eaten much of his lunch, his parents decided that he and Sara could each have a small bowl of jellybeans for dessert. It was their vain attempt to create a quiet situation so the adults could have a cup of coffee and talk together. This worked for about two minutes.

Adrian Pascal looked over in Sara’s bowl and discovered that her jellybeans were far better than his. He gestured to her that he wanted some of hers. Sara was very generous (or intimidated) and patiently kept on giving Adrian Pascal some of her jellybeans. Adrian Pascal’s parents were embarrassed because their son’s goal was obviously to have all of Sara’s jellybeans every time he thrust his hand in her face. He wasn’t going to stop before he was the king of the jellybean castle.

They asked him to share his jellybeans with Nature Girl. He thought this was a terrible suggestion and demonstratively threw his body over his bowl of jellybeans and screamed out, “They’re mine! They’re mine!”

At this point his father lost his patience and swept Adrian Pascal up and brought him into the bedroom. As he was taking him into the room for a time out, he said to him, “You’ll go into the room and you can only come out to the table when you can behave as an adult!”

Honestly. I swear this happened. I didn’t dare to look over at my husband because all I could think was, this could be a very long lunch: about eighteen years long.

[* These tests are wonderful, it goes without saying, if your child is having development problems. Early diagnosis and therapy is one of the wonders of this program. In this posting, I am referring to friends and myself, whose children did not have any serious problems.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 02:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post

Comments

Don't you love it when someone expects a two year old to act like an adult? I know adults who don't act like adults.

Once my Dad was taking care of my 2 year old and he told his PopPop a tall tale which is to be expected of a 2 year old. I couldn't help but laugh when my Dad said to me," You can't believe a word he says."

Really? Dad, He's 2 years old!

I enjoyed your story. It was fun all the way through, and brought back the memory of my Dad making such a strange comment about a baby he adored.

Nancy, with my son at two, it would have been "you can't understand a word he says" because he really took a long time to talk, and even now, with 17, he is still keeping the talking to the minimum.

Don't you think it hilarious that your father would think that a two year old knows the difference from reality and fantasy?

I know all about people who expect a 2 yr. old to act like an adult....my in-laws were just like that. I do hope that child got better!

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