Thursday, October 23, 2014

Temporary Insanity

Temporary Insanity:

You hear about people pleading temporary insanity from time to time.  News reports of the events surrounding such crimes often start something like this:

"Earlier this month a local woman [1] shot and killed five people while . . ."

Of course, while you don't actually hear about the plead of temporary insanity until months and months later, you start to hear speculation about it long before.

Bob: Hey, did you hear about that woman who killed all those people at Wal-Mart [2] last week?
Charles: Yeah, I bet she pleads temporary insanity and gets away with it too.

I suspect that that idea crosses the mind of most people when they hear about someone taking such a plea.  Surely temporary insanity is just their way of trying to "get away" with something. Right? Because honestly, temporary insanity?  You really want us to believe that you aren't normally crazy.  It was just this one time?

Officer Carl: You're under arrest for the murder of five people.
Suspect: No no officer.  You don't need to arrest me.
Officer Carl: But you're crazy.  You killed people.  You're dangerous!
Suspect: No, I'm over it now.  See it was just "temporary" insanity.
Officer Carl: Oh, well no problem then.  Have a nice day!

Well, what if I told you there was an experience that would let you see how temporary insanity is possible.  It won't necessarily drive you actually crazy [3] but it will bring into stark contrast how even the most "sane" of us could lose it, if only for a short time.

And what is that experience you might ask?  Well, I'll tell you.  Here it is:


That's right parenting.

Don't get me wrong.  Being a parent [4] is wonderful.  It's more awesome in more ways than you can fathom.  However, there are days when your kids will just drive you insane.  When the older child is crying with runners of snot coming down his face because he doesn't like the food that he ate just fine the night before.  And then the younger one comes walking into the room carrying the next item in a procession of dangerous items that he seems to be able to summon out of thin air. [5]  Of course, taking this item from him will cause him to break down into tears worse than his brother.  Speaking of brother, the older one has decided to eat his food after all, but has someone managed to get it all over his face and stomach, as well as the majority of his side of the table. [6] Which in turn somehow causes the younger one to suddenly want the rest of his food, which he will now reach up onto the table for and spill everywhere on the floor.  Which causes the older one to start crying again because this spill got a solitary drop of pears on his shoe. [7] And while you go to get a rag, the younger one sees the Halloween candy bag and begins saying "I want a lollipop" over and over and over and over and over. [8]  Which causes the older one to declare that he's having candy for a snack.  And when you inform him that that won't be true unless he finishes his food, starts the crying [9] going again. Meanwhile the younger one has suddenly discovered that the trash can is once a again a source of wonderful treasures and suddenly you realize . . .

Temporary insanity.  Yeah, I can see that.

Temporary insanity: D-

[1] - I'm not being sexist here, it could just as easily be a man.
[2] - I've no specific reason to pick Wal-Mart, but honestly if you need a store to have someone suddenly kill a bunch of their fellow customers, I suspect many Wal-Mart shoppers could step up and do you proud.
[3] - But it might.
[4] - A father in my case, but having talked to the Pook, I can attest that it works the same for the mothers as well.
[5] - Alternately it could be the next in a succession of extremely fragile and expensive things that he like wise seems to be able to summon out of thin air.
[6] - Which you might expect from the two-year-old, but the big one is five now.
[7] - Which evidently is sacred and must remain clean, unlike the front of his shirt.
[8] - and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over.
[9] - And the snot

Monday, October 6, 2014

Two Conversations with the Boys

Two Conversations with the Boys:

Here are two stories about the young ‘uns.  The boys are both amazingly awesome, and they are both so very different from each other.  Since I haven’t mentioned them for the while, and to keep you up to date here are a few facts. 

The Bear, my oldest son, is now five. [1]  He’s in Kindergarten and is loving it.

His younger brother, the Bean, is now two and a half.  He’s an unintentional force of destruction, but that’s a story for another day.

Also I need to precursor this first story by saying that while the Bear is fairly smart for his age, and on any given day we are likely to have conversations about just about anything, I don’t believe I have ever talked about this type of thing with him and that I had neither done nor said anything before this conversation to prompt his comments.

While I was working in the front yard, the bear was riding his tricycle around.  Typically everything he does comes with a running monologue, so after an unusually long stretch of silence [2] I looked over to see what was going on.

He had stopped peddling and was sitting with his head slightly tilted to the side and a far off look in his eyes clearly deep in thought.  The following conversation ensued.

Me: What’s up, buddy?

Bear: Daddy?

Me: Yes?

Bear: When people don’t want something . . .

[Long dramatic pause as he finished gathering and organizing his thoughts]

Bear: . . . it costs less.

I have to admit that in the pause in his statement, I was wondering (and hoping) that he was about to make a comment along these lines.  I also have to admit that I was amazingly proud. [3]

I tried to ask him a few follow up questions to understand what had prompted the statement, but he wouldn’t really answer them and instead he just said he was “just thinking about it”. 

I admit that we do occasionally talk about the price of things, but only in the usual small child context of him wanting me to buy him something and me explaining that it’s too expensive.   And of course he hasn’t said anything else along those lines since.  [4]

On the flip side there is the Bean.  Since the Bear now goes to Kindergarten, morning trips to day care are just me and the Bean now.  Sometimes we listen to music [5], sometimes we sing our own songs [6], sometimes we look for things out in the world [7] and sometimes we have discussions of our own. 

Of course, during these conversations, I occasionally have no idea what it is he’s talking about.  I understand the words he’s saying, it’s just that he’s not the best at providing context [8]. While this isn’t strictly a conversation, the following is a good example. 

As is probably the norm for parents of small children, the back seat of my car tends to end up a hodge podge of toys, books, half eaten snack bits and other random detritus of childhood/parenthood.

Bean: I want that one.[9]

Me: What do you want?

Bean: That one.

Me: What is it?

Bean: That one.  I want it.

Me: What does it look like?

Bean: That one.

Me: [silence]

Bean [more emphatically]: Daddy, I want that one.

Me: And I want you to have it.  But you have to tell me more.  What is it that you want?

Bean: That one.

And so it goes, until finally I begin a list of random guesses of what I can remember being in the back seat.

Me: Do you want the pencil?

Bean: No.

Me: Your cup?

Bean: No.

Me: The lion pillow?

Bean: No.

Me: What do you want then?

Bean: That one.

Me: What color is it? [10]

Bean: That one.

Me [stealing a quick glance into the floorboard behind the passenger seat]: Is it the book?

Bean: No.

Me [stealing another look]: Is it the Froot Loop [11]

Bean: No

Me [relieved]: Is it the bracelet?

Bean: Okay!

He never says yes.  It’s always ‘okay’ and he always says it in the happiest most agreeable tone ever.  And it’s not like he doesn’t know all of the names for all of the other things I’ve guessed.  He just never says them.  I can only assume that it is just that for him this is how this conversation goes. [12]

I’ve tried lots of variations on this conversation, many gambits to help determine what it is he so desperately needs.  But they all end up the same way.

In truth lately when I ask something like, “can you tell me what it looks like?” there is a short period of “um, uh, er” coming from the back seat in which I start to think that we might actually be having a breakthrough and I might get some kind of helpful detail, but, so far my hopes have been dashed every time on the rocky shore of the inevitable next response: ‘That one’.

Two Conversations with the Boys:

The Bear: A+

The Bean: A+ [13]

[1] – He would want me to tell you that he is actually five and a half. 
[2] – Ten seconds would be unusually long, but in this case it was longer.
[3] – I guess Economics runs in the blood.
[4] – So I’ve held off for now on notifying the committee for the Nobel prize on Economics.
[5] - This is usually because a demanding voice from the back seat starts saying, “I want songs” over and over.
[6] – The ABC’s are at the top of the charts right now.  Bingo was there for a long time, which while repetitive in the extreme is worth it for the extreme cuteness of “Bingo was his nay-no.”
[7] – Letters, numbers and shapes most often.
[8] – Or nouns for that matter.
[9] - This unhelpfully will come with no pointing at all.  Not that I could really tell what he is pointing at anyway, since I’m usually busy driving during these exchanges. And if the car should be stopped, any request for him to point results in some comments, but ultimately no pointing.
[10] – This is truly an act of desperation as the Bean isn’t so good with his colors yet.  The only one he consistently gets is pink.  There are a handful of others he is about 50% on and the rest are completely a toss up.  Thus even if he should say a color, it doesn’t really mean that the item in question is that color.
[11] – Please don’t let it be the Froot Loop, that one single lone Froot Loop that has probably been back there for months and bears more in common with styrofoam than cereal at this point.
[12] – And I don’t think that he really enjoys these conversations either, at least that’s the feeling I get based on the sound of frustration in his voice.

[13] - Yes, these conversations can be frustrating, but I wouldn’t trade them for anything.