1. Colored across my laptop keyboard with a dry erase marker.
2. Scribbled on my cream desk drawers in the kitchen.
3. Cut open the back of one of Elizabeth’s dolls and pulled the stuffing out.
4. Scratched our kitchen table with a metal skewer from the kitchen drawer
5. Hammered out chunks of the corner of our upstairs hallway with a meat tenderizer.
6. Scratched our bedroom wall with the prongs of a plug in air freshener.
After feeling very frustrated and upset, and being thankful that I am not a drinker, I thought back to some advice my mom gave me one year when I was a camp counselor. I was a junior in college. I had decided to stay in Bloomington for the summer to take some classes and work as a camp counselor. I called my mom to get her input on a particularly bothersome little girl. She was in second grade and she was incredibly clingy. This girl made Scotch tape look aloof. To be blunt, she was driving me nuts. My mom offered the following advice, “Kate, that little girl is longing to be noticed. She wants attention, so give it to her. Make her your special helper. Go out of your way to overload her with positive attention.”
I was skeptical, but had no other strategies left to use, so I tried it, and “Voila!” it worked like a charm. Once this little girl knew she’d get the attention she needed from me, she backed off and proved to be a delightful camper the rest of the summer.
Getting back to Kai, I decided to apply this theory to our current problem of his unquenchable curiosity and destruction. To his credit, he does not do all of these things in anger. The kid is obsessed with cause and effect. If you k now Kai, you can almost see these words scrolling across his forehead, “How does pushing button A make tab B spin around? Well let’s see!” My neighbor Katie, described Kai this way to her mom, “He’s like our own neighborhood Dennis the Menace”. Kai has also be been referred to as the neighborhood greeter as a result of his boisterous salutations. If Kai spots a neighbor out our window, he’ll dash to the window, throw if open and yell, “Hey there Jim! Where ya going?” This occurs regardless of the weather, snowstorms, rain, heat or air-conditioning on, it does not matter.
Anyway, Kai obviously wants to explore with tools and see how they work. So, today I took him to Goodwill and we picked out an old plug in radio and cassette player. We came home, spread out a blanket in the garage, got out all the tools, and proceeded to take the thing apart. I taught him, “Righty Tighty, Lefty Loosey” and how to use wire cutters, “Think of the blades like a beak, the wire has to be in the center of the beak if you want to cut them.” He learned how to manipulate needle-nosed pliers, which is great for a kid with some fine motor delays. We sorted wires, screws, and other parts into groups on the blanket.
We played together for an hour, both of us enjoying ourselves. I pray that this strategy works. If it does, I will happily truck over to Goodwill as many times as needed so he can explore safely as much as he wants.