He walked her out to the car like a perfect gentleman and she wouldn’t even say goodbye.
Now, I could be writing of teenagers, adults, any girl playing hard to get and boy doing all he can to seem the chivalrous type. But, no. I am writing about toddlers.
Nora had a happy hour playdate today – happy hour for me, playdate for her. She played with a friend, a little boy 9 months younger, and not only exhibited her ability to share and take turns, but, most importantly, to manipulate like a pro.
Nora’s friend, Ian, had a few push toys outside – a grocery cart, a roaring lion and a lawn mower. Nora and Ian spent the afternoon chasing each other around, pushing toys across the lawn and, really, sharing quite well. From the porch, we watched the toddlers playing, happy they were happy, admiring their innocence. Then, in what could have led to the first conflict of the afternoon, both Nora and Ian wanted to push the grocery cart. Instead of pushing and hitting and throwing a fit, Nora walked over to the lawn mower. She knew that Ian would follow; he had been happily chasing her most of the afternoon. Sure enough, he went to the lawn mower too. As he put his hands on the handle, she darted back over to the grocery cart. She had won. She had manipulated him into thinking that he really wanted the lawn mower, that playing with it had been all his idea in the first place.
As the group of women sat on the porch watching this play out, we all laughed at how early this womanly manipulation begins. We shared stories of tricking our husbands in that exact way: “Sure, honey, it was all your idea.”
We remembered how Ian had begun to show off for Nora the second we had arrived, splashing water, throwing his soccer ball, dumping water on himself in a great show of courage and fun. How typical of boys, we all said, peacocking for us women, doing silly stunts because they think we’ll be entertained or amazed. “And we fall for it every time,” one of us mused. And we all laughed, knowing she was right, seeing Nora smile coyly, falling for it each time her friend flashed his million-dollar-grin and dumped water all over himself.
At the end of the afernoon, as we headed out to our car to head home to dinner and bedtime, Ian followed Nora all the way to the car, waving and saying goodbye. She ignored him, as she does all people who are trying to get her to say bye bye. It’s not her thing. And in this scenario it fit – one more way she was manipulating him, playing hard to get and hoping to leave with him wanting more.
Toddlers clearly already know all there is to know about being men and women.