Say What I Mean… AND MEAN WHAT I SAY.
I’m still getting this wrong. I’ve had some pretty big fails with saying exactly what I mean to our 4 year old. This is sort of a continuation of “lying to children”, because more and more im finding my little boy needs absolute literal honesty.
He takes what he hears as being exactly as it sounds – like the other day watching TV and the news reporter said that “Australia is broke” and my little boy turned to me in shock and confusion and said “Mummy! Australia is broken!” and no amount of assurance that Australia is not “broken” would convince him otherwise. And don’t get me started on the conversations we’ve had when daddy declares the “internet is dead” or something “killed the computer”.
Jasper is also very sweet, and he likes to do the right thing, he generally will try to follow instructions from adults – but again, he will only do what he’s actually told to do, not what was meant, but exactly what is SAID. I’ve been caught out a few times with this. One time asking him to “chuck me the remote” and I had a remote THROWN at me with full force. Well… I did ask… and many times where I’ve told him to “Put that down right now!” and whatever precious or breakable thing he’s gotten his hands on gets dropped immediately on to the floor, which was particularly bad when we lived in a tiled home. Once I told him “Come on, jump into bed.” And he did – he jumped onto his bed then rebounded face first into the headboard, giving himself a black eye. I felt SO guilty!
He’s also good at keeping me in check if I exaggerate, because he also has an incredible memory, so if I was to say “that ALWAYS happens”, he will promptly remind me of all the occasions where that statement was incorrect. Thanks buddy.
One of the worst occasions though was I’d told him he couldn’t ride his bike around a bike circuit over a pedestrian bridge and through a park, because we weren’t walking in that direction. I was walking away with baby in the pram and kept calling for him to come with me, but he kept refusing. In a moment of frustration I called out “Okay bye then!” and started to walk off on him – expecting he’d follow. He took that as “Okay bye then – you can go“ and sped off on his bike, almost instantly out of sight, I turned and ran – pushing the pram – after him, calling out for him to stop but he was so fast he was too far away before I’d really realised he was going. I didn’t catch up with him for several minutes, absolutely panicking and just hoping he’d headed in the direction on the track I thought he would. When I did catch him, huffing and puffing, I told him never to ride off on me like that again, but he was so confused why I was mad at him – because in his interpretation, I’d given him permission to go!
Once I’d cooled off and calmed down we did have a little chat afterwards about he needs to listen when I tell him he needs to go with me, but I admitted to him that I’d said the wrong thing and that I would be more careful to say what I mean in the future.
I’ll probably continue to make these mistakes, because I just didn’t realise how much I say that isn’t actually what I meant and he’ll continue to reflect back to me the most literal interpretation of my words until I’ve thoroughly learnt my lesson or until he comes to understand figurative language and context!