Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Exactly how to prevent your kid from driving you bonkers

Since I've been home full-time after having Ben, Max has developed a certain habit. As soon as he returns from school he asks, "Is Daddy coming home now?" And then, he asks dozens and dozens more times as the night wears on, and I am not exaggerating. I'm not taking it personally—I love how much he worships Dave. I just need him to quit asking when he is coming home.

It doesn't matter what answer I give, whether it's "Daddy will be home later" or "Daddy will be home at 7:00" or "Daddy has to work late tonight." Still, he wants to know: "Is Daddy coming home now?" And he knows full well what the words "now" and "later" mean, and he understands how to tell time.

My friend Peggy put a name to the behavior: perseveration, defined as a tendency to repeat words and phrases and not be able to shift gears. Max's fixations come and go. Most recently, he was stuck on "I want to be a fireman when I grow up." He's no longer saying that; he just wants to know if Dave is coming home now.

I've tried different tactics. For starters, I've showed him on several clocks what time Dave was due home. And still: "Is Daddy coming home now?"

I've tried to reason with him:

Me: "Max, you just asked me that! What did I say?
Max: "Later!"
Me: "Right! Daddy is coming home later."
Max: "Is Daddy coming home now?"

I've tried to ignore him ("Max, I am not answering that question again!") but still, I am forced to listen to "Is Daddy coming home now?"

Lately, Max is into the Magic 8 Ball. So one night, I tried to get him to refer to it for answers. 

[Me, shaking Magic 8 ball]: "Is Daddy coming home now?"
[Magic 8 ball]: "Don't count on it."
Max: [Starts tearing up.]
Me: "Max! You know it doesn't give you real answers, it's just for fun! Daddy's coming home soon! OK, let's ask it again. Is Daddy coming home now?"
[Magic 8 ball]: "Very doubtful."
Me: [Gives up]
Weepy Max: "Is Daddy coming home now?"

Then I recorded an answer in a video, because I figured that he could just watch it repeatedly to get satisfaction. I said, in perhaps the most boring video of all time, "Daddy is coming home at 7:00." Max watched it a few times. Then he asked, wait for it, "Is Daddy coming home now?

It was Max who came up with a solution that sometimes helps.

"Is Daddy coming home now?" he'll muse out loud.

And then, he answers himself.

Image source: Reflections of The Scream/Roy Lichtenstein


  1. That sounds...challenging! But your patience shines through in this video, as Max asks, then answers, and you laugh. You still see the humor in this.

    1. I was far from the model of patience with this until he figured out how to answer himself! It was funny hearing it, and a relief. He still asks me but he also continues to ask himself and answer himself, so it's not as intense. xo

  2. One more question-you need show us a video of what happens when Dave DOES get home.

    1. OK! Haven't yet gotten that on tape, but he gives him the biggest smile and hug. The other week, when Dave got home from a business trip and surprised Max when he got off the bus, Max cried he was that overcome with emotion. They have the most amazing relationship.

  3. It's so satisfying to answer your own questions!

  4. I know this feeling all too well!
    Though I have to say, what I noticed was how beautifully max says the 'n' sound, considering that vowels are hard!

    1. Thanks, Sian! Yes, his "n's" are beautiful! Of course, "No" was one of his first words. Like many kids!

  5. The thing that works the most around here is phone calls, as in we call whoever he's missing and let him talk to that person on the phone. It seems to help (usually). Good luck! - Alyssa

  6. When my son gets stuck and asks over and over. I hold up a finger and say "say it one time" And then I make him say it. For my son, this works and it cuts out some of the frustration.

  7. So completely and thoroughly understand this Ellen! I live this daily from 6a-8p, my Max asks "is my dad funny?" Or "is my dad home?" My brain is bruised by the end of the day!


Thanks for sharing!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...