Joule loses things. She picks things up that she has no use for, just because she’s near them, and then puts them down somewhere else without ever being conscious of it. She does this in my wife’s craft room, while I’m on the computer, and she’s talking to me. My daughter and I both get in trouble for it.
I’m sympathetic. When I first got a cell phone, I managed to lose it within a month. Used the insurance to get it replaced. The girl at the call center was awesome and promised to name a new WoW character “Shadrach” for me. After the replacement came I lost it 2 weeks later. While desperately searching the submarine for it, I was completely stressed out. My friend Amrani asked what’s the matter, and I replied “I’m an idiot.”
“What makes you say that?”
“I lost 2 cell phones in 6 weeks.”
“Aw man, you’re not an idiot. You’re just not… good with ‘stuff.’”
This made me laugh and break the tension, and then I decided that I must learn to be good with stuff.
I’m sympathetic to my daughter’s plight, but this does not mean that I go easy on her. I don’t want her to get to be 28 before she learns the value of keeping up with stuff…
The other day my daughter lost a shoe. We were in memphis (an hour from home) working on the (currently empty) condo we rent out. After 4 people spent 15 minutes searching an unfurnished house we gave up and took her out to dinner with only one shoe on. There were some boxes that had been given away to charity and we posited that the shoe disappeared with them. We threw out the 2nd shoe the next day because there was no point in keeping it. I explained to her the amount of time she would save if she always kept them together. I explained that there was nothing to gain by putting them in separate places. I applied all the logic I could to the situation. I gave her practical advice. I told her whenever she puts something down she should ask herself “is this the right place?” and if it’s not don’t put it there.
I had a flashback to 32 years ago when my parents were working on a rental property (which ended up becoming dad’s house a couple of years later when they divorced) and everyone had to spend a long time looking for my other shoe. When I finally “found it” I realized we had found both shoes over 5 minutes ago, and I just thought it was the same shoe over and over again. I was VERY “not good with stuff”.
Today I find one shoe in the hall by the dining room table right before dinner.
“JOULE! Why is there one shoe here?!”
“Oh, Sorry.” *pick up shoe and haul ass to my bedroom. return with zero shoes*
Where Logos has failed Pathos may find traction.
I got down on my knees. I grabbed her by both shoulders and held her at arms length. I stared enraged into her eyes and let my arms tremble with the frustration of hundreds of hours spent searching for things and thousands of dollars of lost items throughout my life. Through clenched teeth I said (not loud, but intense) “Joule! Do Better!” and let her go to the table. I take 2 Deep Breaths as an emotional reset before going to the dinner table myself and heard my wonderful co-parent making sure the emotion connected to the relevant context;
“Why was Papa mad?”
“Cause I didn’t keep up with my shoes.”
Was this a failure to detach my emotions and properly relate to my daughter? No. This was a deliberately display of emotion for behavior modifying impact.
Was this hypocrisy to expect things of my daughter at 6 that I hadn’t mastered at 10?(28?) Maybe, but I don’t care. My goal is to make her life better than mine, not equal to it.