A Glimpse Into the Future

Yesterday morning Alethea and I left Lydia and Peter at home and hopped into the car to run some errands.  I told Alethea, “We are going to go to the library and we’ll look at books, but first we have to stop at the Post Office and buy stamps.”  And then I reiterated myself several times to avoid a potential meltdown when our first stop wasn’t the beloved library.

We got to the Post Office.  The line was out the door.  They only had one clerk working on Saturday morning.  Not good.

So I told Alethea, “Never mind, Honey.  We’ll get stamps another day.  Let’s just go to the library.”

I thought Alethea would be pleased to be headed to the library.  Boy, was I wrong.

As I took her hand and started walking out the door to the car, she started crying.  I asked her what was wrong.  She sobbed, “Stamps!  Stamps!”

I tried to console her.  “It’s okay.  We’re going to the library.  We’ll get stamps a different day.”

Alethea continued to choke out, “Stamps!  Stamps!” and didn’t calm down until we pulled into the library parking lot.

I thought it was funny.  My little girl crying about not buying stamps when she doesn’t have a clue what a ‘stamp’ even is.

Then this morning I told my friend at church what had happened.

She laughed and then said, “It sounds like you have a structure loving first-born just like my daughter.  When you give them the plan, you’d better follow it to a T, or you’re in trouble.”


I was thinking of it as an amusing anecdote, not a life-long personality trait.

It’s suddenly less amusing.

How does one teach a child flexibility?  Because it looks like I’m going to have to figure that out, and quick!

2 thoughts on “A Glimpse Into the Future

  1. My third child is this way.She used to put her five pr of jeans in her drawers with her Friday pants on the bottom and her Monday ones on top. But, when she had two the same she gave up the structure (plus her sister thought it odd). I think one thing is to recognize how much energy it takes for the child when the plans are changed. it means they have to reorder everything and to recognize this this is the gift of organization… it has a tremendous up side too!!

    At work when we make written plans with kids who have trouble with transitions (like on a white board, numbering the activities they will engage in during the session..I usually take turns with them choosing activities) we include a question mark on the plan (not in the order of things but just at the top). The question mark is incase we change our mind (like skip a step of the plan or swap out one activity for another or change the order). The question mark is the out. I bet Alethea would respond well also to a discussion on the way to the post office along the lines of “we are going to the po to get stamps but what might happen if we get there and there are too many people and we don’t have time to get stamps?” She would probably love to think of alternatives, and would enjoy a few really silly or inappropriate ones (eg, we could send an elephant there later to pick them up for us!).

  2. Juanita – Thanks for the great tips. I really like the idea of making silly suggestions about how we might have to change plans. It sounds like a fun game!

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