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GUEST COLUMN: How teaching Mr. Smarty Pants got my knickers in a knot

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Marg Johnson

As a parent, I can honestly say I remember moments when I understood why some animals eat their young.

They can, without much effort, drive you crazy.

Marg Johnson

Case in point. My son, Bud, is a tactile person. That’s to say he wouldn’t wear anything on his body he didn’t first feel for softness. My own mother was like that. When buying fabric she’d rub it between her fingers, then scrunch it to see how badly it wrinkled.

Bud would come home from school and immediately change into pajamas. Most boys wore out the knees of their jeans, but Bud wore out the knees of his pajamas. He had favourite winter sweaters and sweatshirts, flannelette pajamas, gym socks, and I am convinced he still wears flannel pants and old T-shirts as an adult. He hated jeans, dress shirts, leather shoes (tying and stiffness), belts, suspenders, and ties. We had a huge fight every time I tried to get him to wear any combination of those.

One night, I decided it was time he learned how to wear some of this loathsome apparel. At the time, I was a true student of the theory that you introduced new things over and over until the new was no longer a problem. It had stood me well in many situations.

We were going to a nice restaurant for dinner and I had decided in my infinite wisdom that Bud was going to wear the jeans I’d pressed, with a sweatshirt. I told him to go put them on.

I held my temper as he dragged his feet to his room and “looked” for the jeans. That is to say, he walked through the door, stood in the centre of the room, quickly looked around and declared, “Nope! They aren’t here!”

Over several tense minutes, I told him exactly which colour hanger they were on and exactly where that hanger was in the closet. He found them.

“Mom, they’re too small”, he whined. I said, “Put them on, Bud.”

After much struggling and grunting he wailed, “How do I do them up?”

Clenching my teeth I said, “Lay on the bed and do them up, Bud! I’d had had quite enough. The door handle turned. The door opened. And there stood my beautiful boy with the jeans on.

To my chagrin, they were indeed too small. When had he attained the two inches showing between shoes and pants? He walked out into the living room, stiffly.

In retrospect, I probably should have said, “Please take those pants off and put on something that fits” and apologized. But I was just too angry.

“Okay,” I said. “Let’s go and get in the car.”

Heading out like the Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz, I heard him mutter, “Talk about shattered dreams!”

Sarnia resident Marg Johnson is a retired Certified Child & Youth Worker who worked with behaviour children as an educational assistant for 15 years at the York Catholic District School Board.


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