“Abuela, push me on the swing.”
“Not now, Alexi. I’m not feeling well this morning.”
“Can you please take me out for a bicycle ride?”
“No, maybe later.”
Six-year-old Alexi pouted as Maria brought her hand up to her forehead to shield her eyes. Suddenly Alexi’s face brightened.
“Abuela, come with me.” She pulled Maria by the hand, leading her into the front parlor.
“Here, Abuela—sit down in the rocking chair.”
Maria sat down in the antique rocker with the caned seat. It had been a gift from our former octogenarian neighbor years ago.
Alexi climbed onto Maria’s lap and put her arms around Maria’s neck.
“Now, Abuela, put your arms around me and rock back and forth.”
Maria put her arms around Alexi and began to move the ancient rocker back and forth as Alexi settled into her lap. Neither one spoke for a few minutes. Then Alexi broke the silence.
“Don’t you feel so much better now after rocking with me?
“It’s always good to have a little kid to make you feel better,” Alexi said.
“Now, Abuela, can we go outside and play?”
Those of us in medical practice sometimes forget that desirable behavior can be effectively shaped without the use of psychopharmacological substances.