Nora’s classroom at her old school was on the second floor of an office building. Every evening, we’d have to take one of three elevators to the lobby. Problem being, Nora’s favorite elevator was the northern most elevator. She often refused to get on the middle or south elevator.
She’d run the elevators and wait for me to catch up before pushing the button. Then she’d point at the north elevator and shout “This one! This one!” A different elevator, packed with people anxious to get home, would open and I would attempt to guide her in. She would collapse to her knees and start wailing. I would wave everybody on. She’d press the button again. Usually, the north elevator would come the second time. I could just see little neural pathways in her little brain mapping themselves in a way I didn’t want; reinforcing rigid preferences.
My approach was not the best approach from a child rearing standpoint, but do I really need to punish an elevator full of people with my screaming, eccentric child? It’s bad enough they had to stop for nothing.
I tried coaching her. Explaining that any elevator was good enough to ride on, the impact on other people of making them stop when you won’t get on, etc. To no avail. The final few days there, if the north elevator didn’t come first, I made her take the stairs.
Fast forward to our new morning routine of riding the bus. Nora has been on the bus less than 10 times, and nearly every time we have sat in the same seat: the first forward facing seat on the driver’s side.
I did not want this seat to become the new north elevator. Chances were that this seat would be unavailable much of the time and I didn’t want a crosstown meltdown. So, I plotted ways to avert a seating catastrophe, perhaps a game where we sit somewhere different every day. Perhaps I’d blindfold her and spin her in a circle prior to boarding.
I needn’t have worried. Tuesday morning, she snubbed our usual seat and headed straight for the back. She wanted to sit somewhere new.
I sighed in relief, but I’m keeping a handkerchief in my purse, just in case.