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.
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?
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?
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.
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.
(Another lovely story about a peddler, but without monkeys, is The Peddler’s Bed by Lauri Fortino which I wrote about here.)
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.
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.
Incident #1: Laptop flat
Easy: Power cord
#2: Cord short, stretched high
Solution: Be watchful – won’t take long
#3: Trike stuck, wails
Ignore attention-seeking, almost done
#5: Demands iPad monkeys
#6: Snatches credit card, laughs, runs, daring
“You little monkey!”
#7 Monkey trips. Card flies, disappears between boards.
“It’s okay, Mummy.”
Grimaces: It’ll be fine
Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.