For many months, Shlomo has been banging (or rocking) his chair back. He has a booster chair, that straps onto a regular chair. And he bangs it – and the attached chair – back and forth. It used to annoy me. It still does. But now, it is also dangerous.
Imagine a kid in school who leans their chair backwards, so that it is only standing on two legs, but supported by the desk of the person behind them, by the wall, or by the child’s own feet. Then, move the child’s seat up another eight inches, shorten their legs to about a foot and a half, and add weight to the chair. The child’s head is now above the top of the chair, because the seat has been moved up eight inches. Now, take away the coordination that the child is using to keep the chair steady, and take away the supporting wall or desk. That’s what we have. It is scary.
We have tried everything to get him to stop: Taking away the food, moving him away from the table, putting him in time-out. We have tried time-outs on our laps, holding him still (this has been getting progressively harder, and is no longer a viable option), and using our scary voices and the word “dangerous”. Shlomo stops for about two minutes (if we’re lucky), and then starts again.
And then, on Shabbat morning, Yitzchak got a brilliant idea. The idea had been born Friday night, when I detected a foot or feet banging against chair and table. I tersely asked (not blamed!) Yitzchak if he was the one doing the banging. He said no; it was Shlomo. Great. Now there’s no way to get the banging to stop, because with Shlomo, I have to carefully pick fights. This isn’t dangerous, it isn’t hurtful, and in essence, it isn’t problematic. It just annoys me. Yitzchak reminded me that there was nothing we could do about it. Yeah, thanks. That’s what I needed to hear, right? Obviously, I already know that. So, I kept my mouth shut.
On Shabbat morning, Shlomo started banging his chair back and forth. Yitzchak moved the chair away from the table, took hold of one of the little feet, and started banging the foot against the chair. Shlomo took the cue, and began banging his feet, alternately, against the chair. And the back and forth chair rocking stopped. When it started a few minutes later, Yitzchak explained that banging your feet against the chair is okay, and banging your chair backward is not. He took a foot, tapped it on the chair, and Shlomo gave up the chair-rocking and started banging his feet alternately on the chair. Whew.
When his legs get longer, they will no longer touch the table when he bangs. When they get even longer, they will no longer touch the crossbars of the chair, and it will be known simply as jiggling his foot. I can’t wait.
I have to admit, though, that I am surprised. Surprised that we didn’t think of this earlier, and surprised that after so many months of fighting this, all it took was a jiggling foot and a brilliant idea to stop it, no fights involved. And, of course, I am surprised that I was not the one to think of this brilliant idea. Because, you know, my ideas are always the best ones, and Yitzchak is always wrong. (Just kidding . . .) We are not yet finished with this little saga. But we are getting there.
After months of fighting, all it took was to encourage foot-banging (which will become foot-jiggling) in order to stop the chair-rocking. I can’t believe it. It makes sense, though: Obviously, Shlomo was banging his chair for a reason. I guess he needed to be moving. So, telling him to sit still would not work. Giving him another way to move did. I guess I hadn’t taught Shlomo that the way to say, “I’m done,” or, “I want attention,” is to bang the chair backwards. He just needed to move. And knowing his parents, I don’t blame him.