Saturday 13 April 2013

The Sunday Parenting Party - Conveying basic information

Taming the Goblin

Its the Sunday Parenting Party. Please link up your parenting posts and have a look at what others have linked. I'm sure you will find something you like. This week I'm linking a guest post by my Hublet - enjoy:
Conveying basic information
(Goblin is getting way too old for this shit)
Hublet again after a long gap.  Just fill in the intervening months with a variety of baking and Lego based antics. Goblin is three and a half now.  He is intelligent, wilful and highly amusing. 

Unfortunately, at the least opportune times he is terrible at following basic instructions.

I am sure that the majority of the problem comes from us, we can expect too much, or we can assume that something we think is simple is also simple to a young mind.  It doesn’t make it any less infuriating when the smoke alarm is going off, the floor is covered in broken glass and your child is trying to feed a hosepipe through the cat flap.

Here are some which have recently been driving me mad:

Stay still...

No matter how ill or injured he is, Goblin will decide that the best time to run and touch everything in sight is when he is either: Covered in sick; covered in poo; surrounded by broken glass; or wielding a dripping ice cream.  The very best way to make him instantly bolt is to look him in the eyes and shout “STAY STILL!”.  It is like he knows that something good must be about to happen.

Don't touch that...

I have to admit, that I am as guilty as Goblin with this one.  Put me near a large red button marked “DO NOT PRESS” and my hand will start creeping towards it like Father Dougal on an aeroplane.

Goblin is the same with anything which we really not want him to get his hands on but will look at us like a dog asked to do maths when we say “DON’T TOUCH THAT!” (usually leading on to a “STAY STILL”). Examples of this have included:  Pools of cat sick, hot saucepans, spicy food, unknown brown goo found on the train, and anything in a public toilet.

Just this week we were in the toilets at a shopping centre, we both went into a cubicle, Goblin did a wee, then we swapped out.  Despite me saying “Don’t touch the lock, you can touch anything else in here as we are going to wash your hands anyway, but don’t touch the lock.  You are touching the lock, you are still touching it, stop touching it, no, one finger still counts, just stop.”  Of course you know exactly what he spent the whole time trying to fiddle with.

Do you remember what happened last time...

I understand that Goblin is still experimenting with the world, and I try to let him do that.  I don’t think there is any harm in helping him remember previous experiences in the hope that he might consider changing his actions though.  Usually, Goblin has an amazing memory and will alter his behaviour accordingly, but there are a few things that he is totally goldfish like about:
  • Biting the bottom off an ice cream cone.  Yes, you are free to do it, but you do it every time and  complain that the ice cream is dripping out.
  • Mixing all the paints together.  It will end up brown.  If you are happy to just have brown paint that is fine, but every other time you have complained that you no longer have multiple colours.
Maybe next time he will remember what happened the previous ten times we went through this.

We can’t do that...

Goblin does struggle with the difference between “I won’t do that” and “I can’t do that”.  I have spent a depressing amount of time convincing Goblin that some things just aren’t practical or physically possible.

Common examples of this include:
  • No we can’t go to nursery today.  We only pay for you to go on a certain day so we can’t just turn up.  Also it is a Saturday so the nursery is closed.  And, it is 8pm....
  • No we can’t go and see Nanny.  Goblin won’t listen that she is currently on holiday in the USA, if he pleads and whines enough maybe he will just convince me to change my mind.
  • A slightly baffling one was when eating a 99 cone with a chocolate flake in it.  Goblin wanted to eat the flake, but still wanted the flake to be in the ice cream.  He just got increasingly frustrated that I couldn’t make these two contradictory situations simultaneously true.
I think children become so used to parents being able to do things outside their understanding that they assume we are omnipotent.


My final challenge is with pointing things out.  Goblin seems to entirely forget the whole concept of pointing and looks utterly baffled when I am trying to get him to see the nearby sports car.

“Look there,  no,  there,  where I am pointing. The thing that looks like your red car,  it is red,  and car shaped.  Look at the end of my finger,  it is pointing towards a car, my finger is next to a thing,  look,  just there.   I am touching it now,  I don't know how how else to tell you where it is.”

With all these things, all I can do is try and stay calm, and remember he is still learning about the world, our language, and the basics of vocal intonation.

And now to the linky


  1. This made me laugh out loud. Frustrating in the moment but oh so funny in hindsight. Looking forward to more posts by Hublet.


  2. Yes! I love this! My eldest used to cry when we pointed stuff out to her in the car! She never saw what we were pointing to and got so frustrated! !!

  3. At 4 1/2, Bobo is past all of these except pointing. I can even give detailed instructions that my husband can follow (so they must be good) and he still can't find "insert toy or costume here." Then, when I walk him over to it and pick it up, he just says "OH!" and giggles.

  4. Yep all of that even at aged five, especially the impossible stuff... You wanted the Lego to do what?!! But it's basically made of plastic and you can't bend it!

  5. Oh I recognise this stage so much - unfortunately my twins are nearing it. i forgot how frustrating it could be.

    I still bite the bottom off an ice cream cone first though. It's the ONLY way to eat it - surely!

  6. This was so funny... and made me feel so much better about our life! I read all of these blogs and all of the wonderful things parents do, and we try and do as many fun things that always end in whining, crying, running off, stained clothes etc etc and to read that these lovely blogged about children are just the same makes me so happy!!! Well done Hublet, you have made my day.

  7. haha I love this! Life with a three year old!

  8. I really enjoyed this post and can relate to so many of your points. My son is learning his opposites right now. Any time I ask him to do something he figures out what the opposite is and does it.

  9. This is totally Nico! You could add he thinks everything id fixable by grandma or me. He likes to push boundaries with his toys to see if it's just might stretch/bend/close a little more and of course it breaks... A big pet peeve of mine is kids that break their toys, yes even my own, this is a hard one to let go of for me.

  10. Oh my, I am laughing out loud!! soooo funny!


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