inclination and opportunity


Minni Bellaboo is the naughtiest child we’ve had.

That’s t-o-m’s view, as stated yesterday when she’d unpacked his CD tower for the eleventy-zillionth time and ice-skated across the floor on his U2 album. (no bad thing, imo, but he doesn’t quite see it that way).

I’m not certain I agree. I think it’s purely that being third in line, she has more opportunity for exploration and excavation than either of the others had, AND she reaps the rewards of being a follow-on explorer and excavator, in so far as the others have at various times done most of the things that she attempts in some form or another, and have suffered no harm.

Honey is a cautious child. It’s no suprise, and common amongst all the ‘firsts’ we know. I’m certain it has something to do with over-protective  first-time parents totally terrified of anything that might harm that impossibly fragile thing entrusted to us, screaming and removing said potential threats when infant (watched like hawk) gets within metres. So her approach to life is quite measured, tentative and highly risk averse.

Rumpus was born with a full-on, head-first attitude (hello! 1hr 30 labour start to finish – should have read the warning signs in that one!) that has got him into all sorts of bizarre situations, but because he was a ‘second’, he got much more relaxed parenting than Honey did, AND he got lots of lovely attention into the bargain because by the time he arrived, Honey was at school.

Now we have Minni Bellaboo . . . very laid back, but with an ingenious opportunistic streak a mile wide. Stairgate the kitchen to stop her getting in those cupboards? No problems. She’ll just go into the garden room and excavate the plant pots or check out the cat biscuits by way of tasty snack. Barred from the garden room? No problem. There are plenty of climbing options in the living room. She can’t walk, but she can climb the sofa. She mountaineered her way up onto the windowsill without too much trouble, and was tremendously pleased with herself as a result. Hauled down off there, she’ll move to the bookshelves. It takes very little time to de-shelf a row of books, and it makes a satisfying noise when they all come down, to say nothing of the mess. The same applies with CDs, (and worse, antique (well, nearly!) vinyl). The a-v equipment has lots of interesting lights and buttons, and we have yet to discover a door lock that she cannot circumvent (short of attaching a yale to the thing), given a couple of hours watching everyone else get it open and closed.

Where I see the big difference between her antics and her elder siblings is in and opportunity – she gets much more than they did, simply because my attention (our attention) is diffused over a wider range of both children and other activities, so she gets less focussed attention and interaction than either of the others did (note: less, not none. The second difference is in inclination. Honey’s cautious approach and Rumpus energy mean they don’t have the inclination or patience (respectively) to work these things out. inclination. Minni is *so* much more determined and single-minded than her siblings, and it is impossible to deflect her from her chosen activity/objective. Admittedly, she goes for it primarily as attention-attracting behaviour – if excluded from anything, it is a nailed on guarantee that some sort of unpacking or mountaineering exploit will take place, because even exasperated parent is better than no parent at all, it would seem.

If I wasn’t constantly tidying up after her, it would be hilarious. As it is, it’s a reminder that often, taking a couple of minutes out and playing with her or engaging her attention and interest in a positive activity is the quicker way to get things done, rather than ploughing on regardless and getting frustrated that I’ve got to redo job x again because she’s trashed it as soon as my back is turned.

And today she produced the best word in all the wide world: “mummy”. Makes me all warm and squooshy inside.


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