Dear Dave

Wednesday 22 April 2009

Fighting the momentum

Dear Dave,

Lewis is not a fan of change.

I imagine this is fairly normal in a seven-year-old but he takes it to new extremes. For instance, he threw a strop recently because Sarah bought him a new pair of school trousers. Never mind that his old ones were too small and had a hole the size of Andorra in the knee, the new ones simply weren't the same. He managed to convince himself they wouldn't be comfy before even trying them on. Quite how long he was expecting the original pair would last is anybody's guess but he was obviously hoping they'd expand in a similar fashion to The Incredible Hulk's boxer shorts and do him all the way to secondary school and beyond.

Last week our local Tesco had a complete renovation and Lewis was not impressed. He's in denial about the whole affair.

"What are we doing here?" he asked as we entered the supermarket.

"I told you," I replied. "We have to go to Tesco on the way home."

He looked confused. "But why have we come here?"

"This is Tesco."

He looked even more confused. "No, it's not."

"Yes, it is. They've turned the aisles sideways, moved the tills and put in a coffee machine."

"But Tesco isn't like this," he said, starting to become distressed.

"It is now."

"Tell them to put it back."

"What? Including the ride-on duck that was always out of order and the strange smell in the salad section?"

"Yes," he said grumpily.

"Erm, I'm not really sure they're going to be up for that..." I muttered and set off hastily to find where on Earth the washing-up liquid had been moved to.

I knew there was no point arguing any further. Lewis is now so sensitive to innovation, he cried the last time he got his hair cut. Only an inch was removed but apparently he loved it very much - even the fuzz on the back of his neck he can't see without two mirrors and a surprising amount of contortion.

I know for a fact, though, that it's not new situations he dislikes, it's the actual change. He's a slave to momentum. He kicks up a fuss about leaving the house to visit his friends but then hides behind the sofa and refuses to come home once he's there.

At first glance, his behaviour doesn't seem to make much sense but I guess I can understand where he's coming from. I suppose I can be the same sometimes. It's very easy to get into a little routine and run with it, especially when trying to deal with a young family. In order to cope with several years of poor sleep, tiredness and children's TV, I've developed certain ways of doing things. Now the children are older, there may be easier ways of doing things but contemplating change is effort in itself:

I tried swapping the order the kids took their baths the other night because it seemed to make sense in terms of bedtimes, supervision, hair-drying requirements and how long each of the children likes to spend bathing. The outcome was successful but calculating all the alterations to my mental bath-time schedule on the fly was hard work. Next time I may just not bother...

And yet Fraser does like a long bath and Marie would probably prefer not to go to bed with wet hair. In these situations, it's maybe worth remembering Lewis' trousers and examining which of my comfy, familiar methods have become rather stretched and full of holes. If I don't, who knows what might happen? Pressing on with some change now will be better than leaving it too late - I don't want to wake up naked in a public place one day, surrounded by carnage and feeling a little green...

Yours in a woman's world,


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