Monkey mischief

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Did you ever get up to mischief when you were a child? I believe I did. Or so I was told.

Mischief includes exploring, checking things out to see how they work, and generally doing stuff that inconveniences parents. Being a kid, in other words; and isn’t it a child’s main purpose in life: to inconvenience parents? Just kidding, but sometimes it can seem like that. Especially when parents are in a hurry or have other things to do and a child has other ideas in mind.

Although it may seem naughty, wilful, or defiant; young children really just want to find out about the world.

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Sometimes they investigate things: what will happen if I turn this knob, open this door, push this button; how does this taste or smell; how does this feel?

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Other times they are finding out about reactions: what will the cat do if I pull its tail; what will the fish do if I tip it out?

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Human reactions and relationships are also an area of intense study: how will Mum react if I take her keys; what will Dad do if I push this button; what will sister do if I take her toy?

Allowing children to explore, investigate, and experiment, while ensuring they, and no others, are in no serious physical danger, encourages their curiosity, their understanding of the world, and their innate drive to learn.

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While it can be annoying to have a child repeatedly adjust the volume of the sound system, for example, it may be better to ignore it and allow the child to discover the effect of the action. Usually once a phenomenon has been explored and understood, it will no longer fascinate, and the child will move on to something else.

Unless there is a reaction from the parent. Any reaction may encourage repetition, not so much for additional learning from the action itself, but for the interaction with the parent.

The phrase “You little monkey” is sometimes uttered when a child is engaged in some of this mischievous behaviour. It generally recognizes the harmlessness of the situation and acknowledges that the child is exploring or playing, often with the purpose of gaining attention or engaging a parent in a game.

The classic picture book Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina is a story about mischievous monkeys.  A peddler carries the caps he has for sale, one on top of the other, on top of his own cap on his head. When he takes a nap under a tree, a troop of monkeys take all the caps, except his own, and refuse to give them back. Instead of following his instructions, they copy him. When, in frustration, the peddler throws his cap on the ground, the monkeys do the same and he is able to retrieve his caps and continue on his way.

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(Another lovely story about a peddler, but without monkeys, is The Peddler’s Bed by Lauri Fortino which I wrote about here.)

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One of the first picture book apps I bought for my grandchildren was Ten Giggly Gorillas  by Graham Nunn. It’s a cute counting back story that ends happily when the last little gorilla falls and is reunited with all her friends. It’s a wonderful first app for little ones with an easy swipe action to select each gorilla, and a great story to read for beginner readers. (Apologies – gorillas aren’t monkeys, but I like the app!)

I’m thinking about monkeys because of the flash fiction prompt set by Charli Mills at the Carrot Ranch this week. Charli is talking about flying monkeys; monkeys that were used to test supersonic ejection seats in the desert of Utah in the 1950s. She has challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story using flying monkeys as a device or phrase.

This is my response. I haven’t quite got the flying monkey as a device or phrase, but I hope you like it anyway.

 Monkey mischief

A no-show nanny, insistent emails, and bills to pay: the verandah seems the best solution. He can ride his trike or play with toys; with the iPad backup if necessary.

It’ll be fine, won’t take long.

Then

Incident #1: Laptop flat

Easy: Power cord

#2: Cord short, stretched high

Solution: Be watchful – won’t take long

#3: Trike stuck, wails

Extricate it

#4: Again!

Ignore attention-seeking, almost done

#5: Demands iPad monkeys

“Soon!”

#6: Snatches credit card, laughs, runs, daring

“You little monkey!”

#7 Monkey trips. Card flies, disappears between boards.

Wails.

“It’s okay, Mummy.”

Grimaces: It’ll be fine

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Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.

 

36 thoughts on “Monkey mischief

  1. Bec Colvin

    This is such a great post, and I love how you have shown that actions which may be considered annoying are really just about learning, and that patience with the actions can be the best thing. I had forgotten about Caps For Sale! Such a fun book!

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  2. Sarah Brentyn

    Fab post. It did make me cringe, though, as I’m a bit guilty of not letting mine explore as much as I should have.
    “While it can be annoying to have a child repeatedly adjust the volume of the sound system, for example, it may be better to ignore it and allow the child to discover the effect of the action.” In these situations, I did get annoyed and found it difficult to ignore. But I agree with you. The curiosity is a learning tool children are born with. How lovely is that?

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    1. Norah Post author

      Curiosity is the most amazing learning tool. It is very lovely!
      I’m not saying I was always the patient one (far from it, I had much to learn), but I know it works. I’ve seen it. In fact, it was my hub who showed me; both with our own kids and visitors. Parents would rush to stop their kids with the volume knobs, or other things, and he’d just say to let them be, once they figured it out, they’d leave it be. He was right. But a parent’s response (any response) sometimes encourages the behaviour to continue. At least there was one patient person in my family! And both my kids caught it from him. Yay! 🙂

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  3. roughwighting

    “You little monkey…” yes, I remember that phrase. I used to be proud of it, as a little girl. I was known as being mischievous and cute, but as I got ‘older’ (like 4) I got yelled at more often for my curiosity. So, instead, I became the ‘good girl.’ Not half as much fun!
    I enjoyed your flash fiction. Good job!!! It’s all “monkey business.”

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you for sharing your experiences, Pam. What a shame your curiosity was curtailed, as was mine. You may not get yelled at as much for being a good girl, but sometimes the boundaries change and it’s not easy to know where they lie, or to avoid the yelling.
      I’m pleased you enjoyed the flash fiction.

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  4. julespaige

    I do remember being called a little monkey when I was younger – but then I did get into mischief or one could just say I was a curious child 😉
    Though when one is a teen (girl) to be called a monkey is a bit of an insult as arms and legs seem to not quite adjust to the body at times –

    I liked ‘Caps for Sale’. I don’t yet do ‘apps’ as I don’t have an Ipad or smart phone…yet. Another good book with an episode of monkeys is ‘Jamanji’
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jumanji_(picture_book)

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    1. Norah Post author

      I remember a little of the movie Jumanji. I think it was a bit scary. I haven’t seen the book though. Being called a monkey is not nice for anyone of any age, though I think the situation I described is okay, as long as it is used as a term of endearment.

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  5. Annecdotist

    You’re so right about mischief, curiosity and learning, Norah and beautifully expressed in your flash. A huge cheer for all the parents and teachers who manage to endorse this, when many sadly just don’t get it.

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  6. ellenbest24

    Hi Norah *waves* as usual you place tips and advice before your flash and I come waiting to read both your wiseness and your witty take on each prompt. This was no exception, I remember searching for my card ( i used to put money on this card at each shop, to gather up for christmas and birthdays) after tearing my hair, tears and eventually giving up, my daughter to cheer mummy up called me to look at her painting. The three sat looking at a distraught me and one by one gave me … a painting of me crying from Lisa., a fairy wand stick drawing from Graham (my youngest ) who said “to magic it back” and the prize from Paul, a play dough ( home made pf course ) figure of. .. he said a blood hound to find what ever I’d lost. There in his hand covered in play dough was the tool he used to trim the edges into shape… the savings card. Don’t you just love them 😇

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    1. Norah Post author

      Ellen, thank you so much for sharing the delightful story of your three little angels. What beautiful hearts they have, so caring and kind. I love that Paul had the card all along. That bloodhound did a great job! It’s funny too that it turned up (with a little help) after you had given up. I find that is often the way. It is only when I put it out the universe that it’s gone (whatever it is) and that I can’t find it, that it turns up right where it should have been. (I think the borrowers realise I’m on to them and slip it back when I’m not looking!)

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  7. Pingback: When Monkeys Fly « Carrot Ranch Communications

  8. Charli Mills

    That’s a great flash, Norah! I love how it reads like a series of snapshots. It’s an interesting technique as it elongates the 99 word constraint. And it’s definitely a story to exemplify mischievous monkeys. I think the earliest reaction babies get from carers is to repeatedly drop items. The curiosity grows from there!

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    1. Norah Post author

      I was thinking of the way babies learn about gravity by dropping their spoons from their high chairs, repeatedly. It takes many experiments for them to prove their hypothesis that things will always fall. Until they see a helium balloon released – then what delight in the unexpected!
      I’m pleased you approved of my storytelling technique. It did elongate the story. I only thought after I hit ‘publish’ though, that I forgot to say the laptop fell to the floor when the little monkey tripped over the cord. Oh well. I probably couldn’t have squeezed in any more words anyway. 🙂

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  9. writersideup

    Another great post, Norah 🙂

    I’m ALL for encouraging curiosity without danger) 😀 And due to your suggestion of THE PEDDLER’S BED, I searched my library system and not one copy! I suggested it to my local library so we’ll see if they get it 🙂 I love the title and that cover is gorgeous!

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thanks for reading and commenting, Irene. I’m pleased the segue works. Sometimes I think the connection is a bit tenuous. You know our Australian verandahs – I’m not sure how easy the retrieval will be! I don’t know about puppies either. I have no experience to draw upon.

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  10. Steven

    Yes you are right – it is best to try and ignore a child repeatedly adjusting a volume control (or something else like that). It is a great test of patience and mental stamina.

    Liked by 1 person

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  11. thecontentedcrafter

    Exploring and questioning and experiencing – how else do we learn? An excellent post Norah, despite the lack of flying monkeys! Your flash reminded me of how I often wish I had learnt sooner to give that metaphorical shrug of the shoulders to such events as a young mother……… Some things take time to learn 🙂

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