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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Little Kids - They're Just Like People, Only Smaller (Part I)

You can learn so much about human nature from observing little kids as they begin to make their way in the world. This morning, Dulce taught me how people argue and why little things can carry so much weight for so long. It's something I knew, anyway, but it's amazing to see it brought to life on a little stage through my children.

Earlier, my husband was getting ready for work upstairs. Dulce was looking for her Bean, a blanket she's carried around since she was wee. She wandered upstairs, in hopes of finding it. (Bean was being stealth washed and dried after an unfortunate accident involving urine. Being a stay at home mom is very glamorous.)

When Dulce arrived in our bedroom, my husband was getting his work clothes together.

"What are you doing up here?" he asked loudly, in an alarmed tone. You see, the iron was on and he was across the room, and the last thing anyone wants is an iron to the face. You can sense the danger. She ambles up, pulls a cord trying to get a better look, and BAM. Emergency room. No thanks.

You can see it. I can see it. My husband could see it. Dulce? Couldn't see it.

She flies down the stairs, crying at the top of her lungs about the injustice of a world that won't let her look for her Bean.

I mean, this was big. She was inconsolable for at least two whole minutes. Then she started playing and all was forgiven and forgotten. Or so we thought.

When my husband made his way downstairs for breakfast, Dulce (with her newly dried Bean, that I had transferred from the dryer to the freezer then out to the chair when she wasn't looking, so that she wouldn't notice the temperature difference) walked right up to him.

"Daddy?" she asked. "Why tell me downstairs?"
"Because it was dangerous upstairs. The iron is hot and you could have gotten hurt."

Makes sense, right? Surely she would see the light now. But she didn't. That explanation did not cater to her mindset. The iron had nothing to do with anything and it was completely boggling that when faced with the straightforward question of why she had been disallowed to continue her search for Bean, her father had, instead of answering with any pertinent information, gone off on some tangent about some iron. Adults, she must have thought, utterly useless.

Then she did what we all do when faced with an answer that doesn't make sense in the box in which we live. She justified her actions and reasked her question, hoping the emphasis would rest on the right part this time, and her father would finally "get" it.

"No," she said. "I just looking for my Bean. Why you yell at me downstairs?"

Sometimes we cannot see the other person's point of view, no matter how obvious it is. We won't work to connect something that seems unattached to our argument or problem, and the other person involved can't see where we are coming from either. The traditional impasse.

She justified her actions and asked us to justify ours, but not in some mumbo-jumbo way. In a way that directly correlated to her specific problem.

My husband and I joked afterward that it was as if she'd come up and said, "Now that we've all had some time to cool down about this, can you explain to me why you're always such an asshole?"

Which is often, more or less, what adults say to each other in that first conversation after an argument, before the sides are given equal play on equal ground. It is the sticking point that loses many friendships, simplified toddler-style.

Tales of an Unlikely Mother is on We're number 19, just scroll down and click on the thumbs up if you like us!

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