Friday, April 18, 2008

The Thrill of the Chase - and Mixed Messages

The thrill of the chase. It is thrilling to chase and to be chased. My children love it, my dog loves it, the squirrels around my house love it. Aspects of it lie in most sports and playground games. There must be something very natural about it. You've heard the saying "you should play hard to get," meaning that the other person (usually the guy) enjoys the pursuit and yawns when there is none.

I've been thinking about this concept a lot lately, as Connor chases Noelle around. He always loves it. Most of the time she does, too. In fact, some of her best laughter comes during their games of chase. Connor is learning to notice the fine line between fun and frustrating. Noelle lets him know when she's frustrated by screaming very loudly.

I'm glad that Connor gets these learning opportunities, because I want him to know when to stop because he's about to cross a line, and when to continue because it's fun for all. What a great lesson for a young man to get.

However, occasionally I notice Noelle giving mixed messages. She is just about 16 months old, and cannot completely understand what she is doing. I believe there is something natural about what she's doing. I see the look on her face that says, very clearly: "come and get me!" I see the coy smile she flashes - sometimes at the beginning of the chase (where it's expected), but sometimes right after she's screamed and Connor has stopped. As if she has noticed her power in the situation and is enjoying it.

Now I see that as she grows older, I need to really teach her about mixed messages, and the dangers in them. I feel sorry for the guys, as mixed messages are very confusing.

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