Tonawanda News — His brother is poking at him.
His brother is making faces at him.
Heck, his brother is LOOKING at him.
Yes, readers, we have entered that lovely, lovely stage of child development. We are now inhabitants of ... the Tattletale Zone.
“Mom! He took my toy!!”
“Where was it?”
“Um. I don’t know. But he has it now!!!”
I’m normally not a fan of writing with extraneous exclamation points. One does the job. But I’m sure every parent out there will nods their heads with understanding when I say that, when you’re in the Tattletale Zone, everything has multiple exclamation points.
“Mom! He’s in my room!!”
“No, he’s not.”
I’ve told him to mind his own business. That simply results in the assertion, very serious, that this is his business. And sometimes my older son really, truly, is doing something that would land him in hot water. But at that point, one, I already know it (trust me, Sam) and, two, I’m loathe to reward the Tattletale Kid by giving him what he wants: His sibling in the doghouse. So what’s a parent to do?
And at age 4, it’s a fine line to walk to realize what’s justifiable reporting and what’s true tattling. Your brother is not allowed to smack you. He’s not allowed to run the bathroom sink until it overflows. Both of these can be reported and get results. (Although the former has a wide range a seriousness, from “He tapped my arm!” to “He threw a block at my head!” and will receive results based on said seriousness.
He’s also not supposed, technically, to do a wide variety of other things, from making faces at his brother to turning the television channel that was showing the latest episode of “Phineas & Ferb” while Sam was supposedly watching it (even if he really wasn’t).
In the Tattletale Zone, all these offenses have equal standing under the Law of Sam.
“Mom! Jimmy’s eating my dinner!”
Seriously? Your bottomless-pit brother is scarfing down the congealed helping of peas that you left on your plate an hour ago in hopes I wouldn’t notice ... and you have a problem with this??
(Great. Now I’m using extra question marks too.)
I’ve heard it’s a normal phase of development. It’s how preschoolers cope with the development of a moral compass even while they don’t — yet — have great conflict resolution skills ... or the basic realization that life isn’t, really, fair. Dealing with these things is part of growing up, and as such, I’ll keep ignoring it when I can and dealing with it when I have to do so. (Preferably ignoring it. I suspect attention is part of the motive.)
And I’ll help him work on coming up with solutions for himself that don’t involve tattling on his brother or taking the law into his own 4-year-old hands.
If only I can manage to stay sane in the meantime.
“Mom! He’s breathing on me!!!!!”
I give up.Jill Keppeler is a writer for the Tonawanda News. She can be reached at email@example.com.