Monday, March 15, 2021

Distraction is the answer to parent sanity

Since Max was a kid, he's had varying passions—spaghetti, the color purple, Lightning McQueen, car washes, firefighters. Los Angeles is his most recent one, and we're going on a few years now. He is hell bent on moving there, as he reminds us often. And by often I mean every hour on the hour. He'll tell us that, he'll text it, he'll stand in our entry and weep because it's chilly outside and it's 80 degrees and L.A., as has happened recently. 

Max is old enough and bright enough to understand reason. But choosing to accept reason, well, not so much. He wants what he wants. (Who doesn't?!) And he is very, very stubborn. And he perseverates. Over the years, we have found that extended discussions involving said fantasies are the easiest way to keep him calm. The thing is, Max is 18 years old and I don't think it's fair or right to tell him that yes, he is definitely going to move to Los Angeles, what he'd like to hear. 

I have found ways around this by saying things like, "Oh, yes, I totally get wanting to move to where it is warm all the time!" and "You never know, someday you could live in Los Angeles!" I have also found that when Max keeps repeating "Los Angeles is my home," it helps to shift the focus of the discussion. It gets really tiring to keep talking about Los Angeles. No offense, Los Angeles. 

"Ohhh, yes, Los Angeles has great steak restaurants! What do you want for dinner tonight? Maybe we can grill steak!"  

"Los Angeles is great! It's fun to travel and I miss it. You know, I want to go to Hawaii when we are traveling again. Would you like to go to Hawaii? It's warm there!" 

"Los Angeles is nice. I think I'll plant some nice flowers in a few weeks, when it's warm. Max, spring is coming up! Do you know what day it is?" 

We all deserve our fantasies. We also all deserve some peace.

Distraction has come in handy for all my children over the years, but continues to be the most helpful way of managing Max's tendencies to perseverate. We got into a whole other topic the other day when we ended up discussing middle names over dinner. He asked about Benjamin's (Spencer). And he got it into his head that Ben's middle name is better than his (Grant). 

"I want a new name!" he announced. 

"I don't think you could have the same one as Ben," I said.

"I CAN!" he announced. 

I guess technically, he could. 

"So would you like your new name to be?" I asked.

"Fireman Max Spencer," he said. 

I pointed out that we already referred to him as Fireman Max. And then, I asked if he wanted to bring some treats by to our local fire department for Easter.

Distraction for the win. 


  1. Ellen....
    Is Max's name short for anything? For example.... Is his name really Maxwell? I am just curious. I love Max Grant, though!! ;)
    Whoa. I like the sound of Fireman Max Spencer a LOT!! :)
    Peace and Love, Mary Lou

  2. This is hilarious. The perseveration is so grating to deal with - and I guess if continues even as they get older, eh? Sigh. But I love your strategy. Redirection and distraction for the win!


Thanks for sharing!

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