“For attention, please ring bell.”  This is the sign pasted to the bell at my doctor’s office, at the local shop and even over the entrance to Owl’s house in AA Milne’s Classic, Winnie the Pooh (although the spelling was slightly more creative, given that it was written by Christopher Robin).  Sometimes I feel as though I am also wearing such a sign.

File:Cloche.jpg
Photocredit: Wikimedia.

My middle child (6) is very good at ‘ringing my bell,’ and by this I mean that she knows just what to do to get my attention.  Unfortunately, it’s normally negative attention in the form of me reprimanding her for one thing or another.  She is my child who tells the most lies and does the most things covertly.  She struggles with temptation and lacks self-control.  It’s her age, perhaps her birth order, and to some extent her personality.  She is busy and intelligent, a person hungry for distraction, involvement and attention.  As a mother of three young children I struggle to meet those needs, so she usually ends up at a loose end and in a position to create mischief.

It is when I am at my busiest that she rings the bell the loudest.  I have too many things on my mind: people to please, a house to keep tidy, food to prepare, work to do, lessons to plan, and oh yes, three children who need my care.  And they need more than the basics.  Feeding, clothing and washing them– some days this is all I am able to do.  But the mothering job description is more than this.  Reading stories, making eye contact, cooking or baking together, putting the train set together, building a tower, kissing the top of a soft head, holding hands as we walk, assembling a puzzle… all of these apparently meaningless tasks are the bread and butter of motherhood.  This is the attention she craves.

What I would love is for my child to have no need to ring my bell for attention.  I yearn to meet her need for attention completely.  It is a cup that will never be filled, a bottomless vessel that I try to fill but never reaches capacity. She is a bright spark in a world that is dim by comparison, a firecracker that engenders passionate responses in everyone around her.  She is a catalytic person– someone who creates change.  And while I usually say, “she knows just what to do to push my buttons,” I also re-imagine her as one of the most interestingly provocative people I know.  Apparently, my parents say I was just like her as a child!

Yesterday I took her on a cycle ride to a local woodland area, just the two of us.  She rode her bike and I ran alongside.  Partway through I asked, “How are you enjoying riding your new bike?”  “Great!,” she said, “how are you enjoying being with me?”  “Brilliant.”

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Ring my bell
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6 thoughts on “Ring my bell

  • 01/01/2012 at 3:44 pm
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    You said, “She is my child who tells the most lies and does the most things covertly.”   Maybe she is grooming herself to be a politician! Or maybe part of the M16 or the CIA.
                                                                                                                                                        Then you said, “She is busy and intelligent, a person hungry for distraction, involvement and attention.” Maybe she will become an actor! How about consider these as leadership qualities?

    ”Great!,” she said, “how are you enjoying being with me?”  From a 6 year old child, I  consider that  ……..a loving, mature, intelligent response!!

    Meantime, you can add one more thing to the motherhood job – to be a talent scout, as you are!

    • 02/01/2012 at 10:53 am
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      Whatever she turns out to be, I just hope she is happy! Thanks Dad,
      Lisa

  • 01/01/2012 at 4:26 pm
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    Oh, yes- the middle child. I can tell you a lot about being one. Fearful yet resilient, always feeling misunderstood while learning the hard way how to become compassionate, generally being more passionate than compassionate.

    Feeling as if she is always vying for attention between a younger brother (the baby) and an older sister (the more responsible child). I can also tell you about aching to be independent while being pressured to conform to others demands – those of her parents and her siblings – and of always feeling left out, unloved, unworthy.

    I can also tell you that the middle child is the one in the family who will be relied upon for her steadfastness. Yes, I know you don’t see that right now but someday you will. When tragedy strikes, she is the one who will remain strong. Both her brother and her sister will rely on her resilience when times get tough and someday, you will as well, as time passes. She will still be independent but will never stray too far from the family circle. You will not always understand her decisions but I can guarantee that they will come from a place of love- often undefined and not always well thought out – love.

    All of these emotions that now broil up within her will one day mature in to a loving adult who will do anything to help her family. The strong one – you will see as time goes on. Reckless, carefree, stubborn, yet strong – that’s Eilidh.

    You and Keith are two loving, strong adults who will let her run along the path that life creates for her but who will also be the curb she needs to push her back to center when she steers out of control, which she will do over and over again as she grows into adulthood.

    With love,
    Your mum

    • 02/01/2012 at 9:21 am
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      I don’t know what I like best – your blog entries, or your mum’s replies!

      • 02/01/2012 at 10:52 am
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        She should have a blog! 😉

    • 02/01/2012 at 10:53 am
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      Thank you for these thoughtful comments Mom. As you know, she’s a wonderful little girl!
      Love,
      Lisa

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