Sam’s Story: Week 146

Being a grandparent must be pretty great. Ger’s parents, for example, get to see Sam every week and they get to be the heroes. They’re the ones who shower Sam with gifts, treats, and affection while reserving discipline for only the most severe situations. Seems we can barely take Sam over to her grandparents without cookies and sweets flying out of their jars and into her gobbling maw, as if by some magical force. If I ask Sam how her visit was, she’ll burst out with “YEAH! I ate cookies, and I played with the train, and I had chocolate and I ate cookies!”

Keep in mind that I don’t begrudge them (or my Mom) this frivolity one bit –it’s a privilege they earned many times over and I hope cover Sam’s kids’ faces with a light coat of sugar some day. But really, there are some things that push it. Earlier this week, for example, Sam came home from one outing to the grandparents, and when I put her in the tub that night she started singing, well… here, I just had to go get the video camera and record it. Click below to watch the movie:

In case you can’t get the movie to play, that’s Sam singing Barney’s theme song, “I Love You, You Love Me.” She was actually bellowing it earlier, but toned it down when I turned the camera on. Watching Barney was on my “I will never do the following as a parent” short list, but apparently I can’t control what goes on outside my own home. Alas.

(I put the video up and embedded it here with the help of, by the way. The process was stupifyingly simple. No wonder they’re so huge.)

This weekend I spent a lot of time with Sam so that Geralyn could attend some Scrapbooking/Stamping events and peddle her wares unencumbered by a whining, bored, and pesky tag-along. Or Samantha. I had mentioned to Sam the day before that I’d take her to the park, but when the temperature plummeted to the 30s I attempted to revise that plan, pitching the concept of an exciting day of Staying at Home instead. Being a recent resident Southern California, though, I don’t think Sam really grokked the concept of “thirty six degrees” this side of the freezer door, so she insisted and I acquiesced. I bundled her up and we went to the park, but after ten minutes of climbing over ice-cold metal play structures, Sam waddled up to me and moaned “My haaaaands are tooooo coooold! I wanna go hooooome!” Lesson learned, but at least I got a couple of shots:

The last thing I’ll mention this week is that I’ve noticed is how Samantha has been picking up on not only on our mannerisms, but on tactics for navigating the waters of everyday interpersonal relationships. I’ve written before about how she seems to have a natural sense of guile, but this is a little bit beyond that. For example, one tactic I’ve learned to employ against Sam’s growing stubbornness is to ask her if she wants to do something I know she likes, then tell her that she can’t do it until she does what I want. So if she’s being obstinate about brushing her teeth, I’ll ask her what she wants for breakfast, then when she answers (“a waffle!”) I’ll tell her that she can have it after she brushes. You know, even though that had been the plan all along. Basic Manipulation Through Perceived Empowerment 101, really. We psychologists take to this kind of thing easily.

Sam, though, has decided to model this kind of manipulation, or at least try to. The other night, after a full day of play, I was tired and wanted to sit and check my e-mail. Sam wanted to play “grocery store,” though, which would have involved lots of running around the basement with her toy grocery cart and pretending to unload, scan, and bag her little plastic groceries while she chanted “two pounds of cow meat, please” or “two pounds of ice cream, please” (groceries only come in two pound allotments in Samland, apparently).

So I decided to try Misdirection, another basic parenting technique, in an attempt to get her to forget about grocery shopping. “Sam,” I said, “Can you name the cars in the Cars movie we saw today? This usually works, because like a lot of kids her age Samantha is compulsive about naming things.

“Daddy?” she said, putting a hand on my arm.

“Yes, Sam?”

“Do you like to play your guitar song?”

I gave her a queer look. That’s her name for Guitar Hero. I had just bought the sequel, Guitar Hero II, earlier in the week and had been rocking out whenever I got a chance. “Yeah,” I replied after a moment.

She pulled on my arm. “You can play your guitar song after we go grocery shopping. Come on!”

I laughed and we went grocery shopping –like five times, actually. And while I never did get to check my e-mail or play Guitar Hero II, I didn’t really mind.

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2 thoughts on “Sam’s Story: Week 146

  1. That is awesome. I love that you rewarded Sam’s fledgling attempts at effective argument. 🙂 Seriously! I just read a great article in Wondertime magazine about teaching your kids the art of rhetoric. The author began by telling how he once informed his his tantruming 5-year-old, in front of a bank full of disapproving customers, that her argument wasn’t working because it wasn’t pathetic enough, and that stopped her tantrum.

  2. Interesting article and it makes a lot of sense. I generally try to reward Sam by capitulating whenever she employs tactics besides whining, crying, or tantrums. I want her to know that those things don’t work, but other, more civil approaches do work. The problem comes when she very politely and charmingly asks if she can scrape a screwdriver across my computer monitor.

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