24 May 2010

People Skillz

Well, Eamon may be a bit slow on the talking front, but he's off the charts in another area: his social skills.

Eamon stays with my mother and father each day. This has caused some concern among friends and family: should he be in daycare in order to become more socialized? That being said, he goes to the park almost every day with my parents, where he interacts with other children of stay-at-home parents or grandparents, and they also take him to a place called My Gym twice a week, once for a class and once for free play. During his class, he and a bunch of other toddlers learn new phyiscal activities (somersaults! and other things!) and during free play he interacts with kids both younger and older than he is (anywhere from 7 months to 4 years, I think). Meanwhile, Eamon has never been shy. He takes after Aaron in this respect, in that Eamon has never really met a stranger.
But his true people skills were showcased this weekend at a birthday party. The party was for a two year old that we know through Aaron's work. Eamon and I went and Aaron (who had to work) joined us after we had been there about an hour.

There were lots of kids there. Most of them were about two, and most of them were boys. They were running around and screaming, tumbling and wrestling, as boys are wont to do. At first, Eamon just sort of stared, keeping off to the sidelines with the parents. Adults, he knew how to handle. Adults are EASY for Eamon. All he has to do is flash that charming smile, and he wins hearts left and right (on a side note, all the adults thought he was at least 2 years old since he's so darn tall, and he was indeed as tall as or taller than many of the two year olds)

After about 20 minutes, he was ready to tackle the Kids (but not literally). He carefully waded into the fray and started playing with some of the toys (and by play, I mean sticking them in his mouth). He's still not really old enough to play "with" others, but engaged in plenty of parallel play.

The problem started, however, when he saw the Elmo Phone.

He wanted that Elmo Phone.

He coveted that Elmo Phone.

Every fiber of his being craved that Elmo Phone.

And someone else was playing with the Elmo Phone.

What to do? What to do?

At first, Eamon went for the straight-forward approach. He wanted the Elmo Phone, so he reached out to take it from the two year old who was playing with it. I was right there, of course, and told Eamon, "No, baby, he's playing with that toy right now. You can't have it."

This perplexed Eamon. At his house and his grandmother's house, he is the only child and has no concept of someone else wanting to play with the toys (we try to emphasize that they are not "his" toys, just "toys"). He didn't really understand, so he reached out again, and got the same response from me. "No, Eamon, that little boy is playing with the Elmo Phone. You have to pick another toy."

Eamon tried a couple more time to take the phone, and was consistently told the same thing. His biggest reaction was a simple sigh of frustration. Finally, he walked off and grabbed another toy. "Good," I thought, "he's figured it out."

Oh, Eamon had figured it out all right. He took his new toy up to the boy with the Elmo Phone, and waved the new toy in front of the kid. Being a kid, the little boy immediately grabbed it. Eamon then grabbed the Elmo Phone.

Well, this left everyone a bit befuddled. The other boy was trying to figure out how he had lost the phone, and whether he should even be angry, since here he had a new toy in his hands. The boy's mother and I were both trying to figure out whether we should intervene, since Eamon had taken the phone--but without the other child being upset, we couldn't see why we should say anything. Eamon was the only one who wasn't a bit confused. He had done exactly as I said--if each person can only play with one toy, and each toy can only be played with by one person, then he simply had to replace the other child's toy in order to get what he wanted.

Eventually, Eamon was distracted (I think by the lure of the chicken fingers) and dropped the Elmo Phone and wandered away. Two more times, another child picked up the phone and started playing with it. As soon as Eamon noticed, he proceeded to do the exact same thing--run over, pick up a comparable toy, hand it to the other child, and then reclaim his phone. At no point did any of the other children get angry with him, and yet he got exactly what he wanted each time.

Once again, we resolve to make sure to teach Eamon how to use his skills for good. Otherwise, we're really going to be in for it.

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