Monday, January 12, 2009

Outmaneuvered II

My son often chooses not to listen. I know that may sound like crazy talk to any parents reading this, but it's true.

You can get right in his face, force him to make eye contact (which he strenuously avoids, but that's a topic for another day), and stress how important your next sentence will be, then say it, and almost invariably get the same response:


This is said in as disinterested a tone as possible, and sounds more like it should be spelled, "Wut?"

His hearing isn't the problem. If you're offering candy, he can hear a whisper from two doors down the street. It's purely a matter of him deciding that whatever you're saying isn't worth listening to, tuning out, then coming back in at the end when he realizes you expected a response. If you repeat yourself for him, he usually loses interest again after a few words and the cycle of "Wut?" repeats.

We're trying to break him of this tendency, and one of our strategies is to refuse to repeat ourselves, especially if whatever we said was to his benefit. For example, "After supper you can have some chocolate cake for dessert" will not get repeated when he tunes out around the second syllable of "supper" then expects you to go back over it.

The following conversation took place at supper a couple of nights ago. My wife had said something to him, which he ignored. After a few seconds he realized that there may have been something in it for him, so he asked for a repetition. She refused to give it to him, and we reminded him that we're not going to keep repeating things for him.

My wife: "You should have been listening the first time. I am not repeating myself."

Him: A pause, then, "What?"

Her: "I said, I'm not repeating myself."

Enough rambling. Here's a picture of my son (and an unidentified innocent bystander) playing in the water park at Gatorland. This particular gator isn't so much real.

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