Saturday, March 14, 2009

Know Your Species

Imagine that you just landed a job as an elephant trainer. The first thing you would do is research the species. You would learn that elephants are social, herd animals which respond to a hierarchy. Their trunks are strong enough to lift a log, yet precise enough to pick up a penny. They cannot jump. They graze all day long. They are neither prey nor predator.

Our Sunday School teacher's wife always tells us to become a "student of our mate." She repeatedly says that we have to observe and learn everything we can about our mates so that we can understand why they do what we do and how we can develop the best marriage possible.

I am not sure if this is normal, but I tend to think everyone thinks and behaves just like I do. You would think that I would have learned my lesson by now, but I am surprised when I realize that people don't behave exactly as I would have. In my line of work (juvenile and criminal defense attorney), this thought paradigm can be quite amusing.

But in my home, this thought paradigm can cause a lot of friction. I ought to spend some time studying my husband and my children. I like to have everything organized and am furious at myself whenever I misplace something. I refuse to look for something I need, because I know it will show up sooner or later. Robby doesn't have a need for things to be neat and organized and will spend 30 minutes frantically searching for something he has misplaced. He thinks of it as a treasure hunt, or a battle, and will not quit until he locates the missing item.

My girls are also different: Catherine is quiet and thoughtful. She rarely complains. Yet, when she is told to do something (like clean up her toys, go to bed), she pretends not to hear me, stalls or does the task at a snail's pace. We are still trying to figure out how to overcome her diversion techniques and not get frustrated at her. Any advice would be appreciated!

Sabrina, however, tends to complain a lot. She fusses (albeit only for a few seconds), when we take her clothes off, put new clothes on, change her diaper, put her in the car seat, take her out of the car seat, put her in the bathtub, take her out of the bathtub, etc. You get the idea. She starts and stops her crying instantly, so I don't think she is really upset. Plus, she will start smiling and giggling just a few seconds later. So why does she complain for that moment? Is it because we have stopped her from doing whatever she was doing?

This post was inspired by the book "What Shamu Taught me about Life, Love and Marriage" by Amy Sutherland.

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