Yesterday my daughter walked into the kitchen exclaiming she wanted to eat the crumbs. I frowned “Crumbs? What crumbs are you talking about.”
Calmly, she added she wanted the crumbs that came with the airplane.
I still didn’t understand and asked my husband for help. But he didn’t know what she was talking about either.
We had an airway delivery of food lately, so I was quite sure it was something that had come that time, but I couldn’t figure out what she meant.
“Do you mean the crumbs of your cookies?”
“No!” she screamed, getting seriously ticked off at our ignorance. “The crumbs that came with the AIRPLANE.”
I was thinking frantically at what she could mean, offering suggestions, opening and peering into the fridge. My husband quizzing her, thinking she meant a box of chocolates he keeps at his desk, which he brought the last time we returned from Belgium. “They are finished,” he said, “but we’ll get new ones next time we take the plane.”
Now she was wailing. “I want the crumbs, I want the crumbs! They are not finished.”
I was sure that was not what she meant, and with the rising of the volume, my patience was slowly exiting the building.
“Tell me what you mean, I don’t understand you. I cannot help you if I don’t understand you.”
She shook her head and repeated “the crumbs” falling to the floor and crying. 3I’m going to die, I want the crumbs.”
|Image: Chirag Rathod on Flickr|
She got up from the ground: “a box,” she said. “And do we keep them in the fridge or in the pantry?”
My brain was working overtime, and then it came to me: we had received a little box of chocolate sprinkles, that must be what she was after. I got it out of the fridge and the storm clouds made way for sunshine. With redness in her eyes, she produced a smile. I excused myself for not understanding her and told her I didn’t mean to upset her. That it’s best to talk and help each other when we don’t understand, instead of each of us getting angry or worked up.
She nodded, fell into my arms and gave me the cutest hug.
Sometimes communication with a toddler can be really difficult, with them screaming things at you which you don’t understand, and getting worked up as they notice they are not getting any response, or at least not getting what they want.
Sometimes I think it is best to see them as a foreigner who doesn’t master your language. If you can’t come to an understanding, try to get them to use different words, ask other questions. Don’t ask them what they mean, because for them it is as clear as it is gibberish to you. Not being understood is frustrating, especially if they really want something (which is like 98% of the time).
My reaction of getting worked up at our incapability to communicate is obviously wrong We would have gotten much further and with less tears if I had remained rational and had asked the right questions right away.
If she would have been a foreigner, I probably would have, but when it comes to ou children, we se them as demanding, we find their frustration intolerable. Instead of being tolerant and helpful, we get angry and frustrated ourselves, because they don’t behave in the way we think they should.
We start worrying about a million other things instead of getting the communication flowing. What will the neighbors think? Can they hear her? Must this be every evening...
If it were the lost foreigner, we’d probably show much more patience, and anger wouldn’t even cross our minds. Surely we owe our children the same courtesy we do strangers?