I have a pretty strict no-provoking policy among the kids.
For many years this has been enshrined in my mom-phrase, “Don’t. cause. problems.”
The idea is that many people (and children most-blatantly) find their ability to affect the emotional (or physical) state of other people to be quite entertaining.
It’s closely related to the delight of the small child who realizes s/he can knock over a tower of blocks. After the initial shock, interminable repetition becomes hilarious and a delight: I, aware of my finiteness in this vast world I do not understand, nevertheless have the power to effect change!
Or something equally giggle-inducing.
So, desiring a maintenance-pattern that requires the least amount possible of my direct intervention, I taught my children from a very young age that this form of entertainment was a barely a degree more acceptable than swinging the cat by his tail.
The resulting problem is one I can see in our society as well:
When people become used to living in a neutral environment, where conflict is not blatant, anyone who makes life harder seems bad.
I am agitated, therefore they are provoking.
~ ~ ~
Earlier this week, while I was out in the barn, there was a small earthquake in the house. Natasha, in a blanket-sleeper and boots, staggered (having just awakened) out to tell me that Melody wouldn’t stop screaming.
Apparently Elisha (on his bed) began making a noise that Melody (on her bed) found “annoying” and he would not stop come pleas or high decibels.
In negotiating the situation, I asked if he had been following her around with the noise, and found out, no, they had just (both) gone back to their room after breakfast.
~ ~ ~
Because Elisha was the one causing Melody’s discomfort, she assumed he was the one that needed to change. But they were both in places they were allowed to be, doing nothing intrinsically bad.
In fact, both children frequently enjoy making random noises together, kicking the air and creating competing rhythms.