By P. Berman, A. Hosack, & K. Hecht
I punished myself. I didn’t eat the cookie- it was so smelly good and right in front of me! Mr. and Mrs. Carson said they would help keep the mean daddy away.
Davy was eating his vegetables first. He had told everyone at dinner that he gave up the cookie because he had lied to his mommy and was eating his vegetables first to show he was sorry for lying to Mrs. Carson. The grownups had told him he was being a very big boy to be able to figure out his own punishment for lying.
Davy didn’t feel any stomach pain anymore. It was the lies bubbling in his tummy that had been making him feel bad. He was glad he had punished himself by giving up something he had wanted. It made the lying bubbles go away. Davy ate a good meal. Everyone else did too. Davy was surprised that everyone seemed to be okay, even though he had lied twice. The grownups were going to talk together in the living room to think about any other ways they could help keep the mean daddy away.
While he was feeling better about the mistake he made in not just telling his mommy the truth to begin with, he was still feeling scared about the mean daddy. He jumped up after dinner and said, “it’s time for you, grownups to talk.” “My Davy, please remember that grownups have chores they need to do just like you do in putting your clothes in the hamper. Please help me finish up my chores by bringing your dish and silverware to the sink. Mr. and Mrs. Carson have to put the leftover food away so we will have delicious sandwiches tomorrow at lunch.”
“And then, you will make plans to keep me safe,” Davy said anxiously. “Yes, we will my Davy and you can listen to us talking if you don’t interrupt,” Claire said. “I will try but sometimes I have problems with being polite.” Mr. and Mrs. Carson hid their smiles as they carried the food dishes back into the kitchen. put the dishes in the sink and then we will talk my Davy.” Davy was sitting on the floor by his mommy’s place on the couch. The living room seemed like such a serious place when there was no game on the coffee table. Davy was on his knees when Claire sat down, he grabbed her legs and put his head down against her knees. She stroked his hair as they waited for the Carsons to come in and sit down.
Mrs. Carson started the conversation, “well, we have our plan for school and for walking home from the bus. What other situations might there be that we need to think through?” It wasn’t an easy question; Claire had no idea when or if Larry would show up. She had stopped sending letters and she never received another one from him. Mr. Carson said, “Let’s talk about what we will do, if a letter comes from the mean daddy.”
“If a letter comes, Mrs. Carson said, let’s just mark it return to sender and put it back for the post to take it.” (1-minute silence) Claire said, “The problem with that is if the letter is telling me that he is coming. He might show up before the letter was returned to him.” “That’s a good point. I guess you need to read it first and then if we need too, we can plan what to do if he tries to come in person,” Mr. Carson said.
Pulling her pants leg repeatedly, Claire looked down and said, “what do you want to say Davy?” “Thank you, mommy, I was trying not to interrupt but you forgot to talk about what you will do with the letter after you read it?” “I am proud of you for not interrupting to tell me that, it was smart to signal me so you could be polite and tell me about the problem.”
My mommy is proud of me! Yeah!!
Mr. Carson said to Davy, “would you like us to shred the letter together, after your mommy checks it?” “Yes, let’s do that and maybe put the scraps out for the birds to make nests out of.” Mrs. Carson said, “the nests would look very nice with paper scraps in them.” “I don’t know how he would get our phone number, but we need a plan for if he calls,” Claire said.
The Carsons have this pretty pink phone in the hall that their daughter had picked out for the family when she was little. Davy loved to push the buttons on this phone when the grownups would help him reach. He wasn’t allowed to answer the phone.Thank goodness, this meant he didn’t have to hear the mean daddy’s voice. Claire said, “which ever grownup answers the phone, we should give the mean daddy the same message. How about, “Claire and Davy don’t live here anymore (moment of silence) but that’s would be a lie.” (1-minute of silence) Mr. Carson suggested, “I am sorry that you called here. Your calls are not welcome, please do not call again.”
“That’s a good message Mr. Carson,” Davy said interrupting, but then putting his hand over his mouth- he had interrupted, and he was afraid they would now send him out of the room. “While you did interrupt Davy, I agree that it is a good message. It tells the truth but in a polite way,” Mrs. Carson said.
“Well, my Davy, are you ready to hear us discussing the scariest plan, what to do if the mean daddy shows up at the door?” Claire asked. Davy turned white as a sheet, but he shook his head “yes.” He had put his fist in his mouth to help him remember not to interrupt again. “We could say a similar thing to him in person. I am sorry you came here. Your visits are not welcome, pleases do not come again,” Mr. Carson said.
Your visits are not welcome. Please do not come again. Can I say this?
Claire looked down at her Davy. He was looking so white and he was making teeth marks in his fist. She would tell Larry this. She would use her mad mommy determined voice. If he tried to push in, which she wouldn’t suggest could happen in front of Davy, she will tell the Carsons they should immediately call the police; she would wait to mention this after Davy was asleep.
“Okay everyone, this was hard but good thinking; let’s get our ice cream dessert now,” Mr. Carson suggested. Davy raised his hand. “What is it my Davy,” Claire asked. “We need one more plan before ice cream. (brief silence) We need a plan for if that mean daddy shows up in my dreams again,” Davy said clutching his mommy’s legs.
“You are right, my Davy. Your mean daddy could show up in your dreams again. But we already have a plan for that. We just need to practice it more. We are going to do mindfulness with our fish.” “I had forgotten mommy, could you help me practice the steps again… after we have ice cream? Davy said anxiously. “Yes, we can. We can even show the Carsons what we are doing if you would like to?” “Yes,” Mrs. Carson said, “I don’t know what mindfulness means.” “Oh, mommy and I can show you after ice cream.”
Davy is learning how to think about hard problems and break them down into smaller steps that are easier to solve by listening in while his mommy and the Carsons talk about his father. This strategy is called modeling. The adults model the behavior they want the child to learn and the child learns from observing.
Children are always watching adults. Is there a behavior you would like to “teach” your child by making it part of family time together? If you want to know more about how to teach a child, by being a role model of what you want to teach, consider watching this video on YouTube. It was created by a student learning about Dr. Alfred Bandura and his theory of how we learn through our social environments: