Wednesday, September 15, 2010

I'd Like to Introduce My Daughter, Rupert

We did a little problem-solving at our latest Family Conference, and our solution is so amusing that I absolutely must share it.

Most of us parents have had the following experience when trying to get a child's attention: "Morgan? Morgan? . . . Moooorgaaaaannn . . . Morgan! . . . MORGAN! Aaagggghhhh!"

Right? It's common. They are watching television, or reading a book, or listening to their own inner voices, or generally can't be bothered by what you might have to say because you're only Mom [insert eye-roll here]. It's frustrating because it's no fair when people aren't paying you a lick of attention when you have Something Very Important to Say.

Morgan has this problem, only a few standard deviations away from the norm. If you know her in real life, you understand what I mean. She very often simply isn't aware of, oh, you know . . . the outside world and so this is a problem. A Big Problem for all of us (Brendan has this problem with her, too). We parents (and others) are frustrated in our attempts to get her attention, and she is unhappy to suddenly reawaken to find angry yelling people in her face. And that's how Brendan describes the experience (for Morgan is his child in oh-so-many ways)--you're off, happy in your own Happy Thought Land, and then Suddenly! Without Warning! BLLLLAAARRRRGGGGH! People are screaming your name and are mad.

We've had talks and discussions. We've made plans. I take care to get in her field of vision and touch her shoulder or arm before I speak. Even that has only spotty success. Yes, you can be kneeling down in front of her, hand on her arm, speaking to her and looking directly in her eyes . . . and she can still not be paying attention. I am not making this up.

Also, sometimes I just can't get in her field of vision or touch her. Sometimes I need to get her attention when I'm driving or when she's gone the wrong way around the car in a parking lot and I'm looking for her. I need to be able to call her name and have her A.) Notice, and B.) Respond. I'm just sayin'.

Is this temperamental or learned behavior? I suspect it's temperamental primarily (having lived with Brendan for many years, there's definitely a genetic link here). But I worry that by not helping her figure out how to Notice and Respond that I'm enabling this somehow. Plus, it's really frustrating, as I've mentioned.

So we're trying something new! In the Family Conference, she was perfectly happy to acknowledge that this is a challenge, and she readily agreed that yes indeedy, she sure hates to get surprised by a frustrated Mom or Dad who'd been calling for her. I can't remember who suggested this--Morgan, I think--but the idea was floated that maybe there could be a code word that would get her attention. (We're all into espionage lately, invisible ink, international intrigue, etc. due to a recent foray into classic James Bond films.)

Now part of me thinks the code word ought to be 'Morgan' but as that clearly has been unsuccessful, we decided to give it a try. Her first suggestion was for us to spell her name out M-O-R-G-A-N. We thought maybe that was kind of long, and not such secret code-y. What else? She suggested a couple of other things, like maybe dog or puppy (shocker!).

I suggested that the word ought to be something that she's not at all used to hearing, or perhaps, just silly. Something like that would help get her attention. I pointed to our big black gargoyle, who presides over the household gods on our mantelpiece.

Our household gods and watchers, restored to their proper pla... on Twitpic

See? There he is.

"What about gargoyle?" I suggested.

She didn't like gargoyle, but promptly suggested the gargoyle's name: Rupert! Hilarious!

We role-played a few times, with Brendan and me saying "Rupert!" and Morgan responding "What?" And we laughed and laughed because it is so silly. :o) We agreed to try this for a week and then discuss whether or not it's been helpful. So far, it has been helpful, though I tend to forget to use it.

So now you know why you might hear me say "Morgan? Morgan? RUPERT!" And I don't even care, as long as she'll respond to me in a parking lot!


C. August said...

Knowing both Brendan and Morgan in real life, I can say without doubt that they are both Rupert.

Rupert! Can you please clean up those dishes that have been sitting in the sink for three weeks? Rupert! The apartment smells like your month-old laundry! Rupert! Why did your old high school friend who visited from Chicago steal my credit card to buy rollerblades and a lizard? (true story)

Jenn Casey said...

I laughed and laughed and laughed at your comment! :D

brendan said...

C August -

Your comment is completely unfair, and without any basis in reality.

It was a lizard *cage*.

Trey Peden said...

You know.... Reflecting back on my childhood, I think I may have had this problem. Or at least a form of this problem.

When I was reading a book, I would frequently be gone for hours and would look up to find people screaming or carrying on. More often than not, though, I would look up to find myself sitting in an empty, sweltering car that was parked in the driveway for who knows how long, because my mom eventually decided that I would come to at some point.

Tito said...

That statue isn't actually a gargoyle, it is technically a "grotesque".

Jenn Casey said...

Trey--that's funny you mention the car. Lately (and by 'lately' I of course mean 'the last six months or so') she forgets to get out of the car. It sounds so strange, but I'm serious. The car will be parked in the driveway, turned off, doors opened, everyone else (including Sean) will be out of the car AND IN THE HOUSE, and she'll be sitting there in her seat, just a-reading a book.

I've taken to saying "Did you notice that the car is stopped? That means it's time to get out!" And she'll wake up, look around, and kind of say "Ohhhh...." and then s-l-o-w-l-y mosey out.

Her friend Livy REALLY hates that, and will boss Morgan until she gets out. I really like it when Livy visits. :o)

Jenn Casey said...

Tito--Sssshhh! Don't mention it to Rupert. I'm afraid it will hurt his feelings, as he wants so much to be a Real Gargoyle, almost as much as Nearly Headless Nick wants to join The Headless Hunt! :o)

Kelly Elmore said...

Yeah, I'm gonna suggest to Livy when she is older that she should marry a Rupert. She has gotten to be such an expert at nagging Morgan that I'm sure she'll be able to keep one of those types in check!

Seriously though, I'm sorry she bosses her so much! I try to tell her to let Morgan be in charge of herself, but she just cannot endure the slowness. She just takes over to get all the things done and considers it a good and helpful deed. Oh, Lord!

Last night, after she overheard me telling you that I want Aaron to do more housework, she said to him, while he was starting to unload the groceries, "I'm gonna leave you to do that by yourself, cause you need to do more chores around here and this seems like a good time to start."


Jenn Casey said...

That's where Livy takes after ME, because I also can hardly stand to endure the slowness. I try and try to bear it with good grace, but sometimes I just can't. An annoyed "Hurry up!" comes better from Livy than from me. :o)

And I nearly choked on my water when I read what she'd said to Aaron! OMG. What did he say? What did you say? That's about the funniest thing she's ever uttered.