Friday, February 19, 2010

If you cannot get rid of the family skeleton, you may as well make it dance.

I come from a family of analyzers. We're all very think-y and into picking apart arguments.

When I was little, about 3 or 4, and we were living in Venezuela, I spoke both English and Spanish. And was apparently in the habit of switching back and forth between languages, depending upon the exigencies of a particular situation.

I had a little Peter Rabbit china bowl that was part of a set. And one day I accidentally dropped it and it broke. When asked about it, I instinctively responded in Spanish rather than in English, because that allowed me to say "se me cayĆ³" -- "it fell from me" -- rather than, "I dropped it," which implied a greater degree of culpability on my part.

No wonder I became a lawyer.

My brother, Sam, is very much a Deep Thinker (check out his blog for proof). He has always been this way, and was particularly hilarious as a kid. Always coming up with bizarre analogies and looking into the details of any given situation far more than you would have expected from such a little monkey.

When he was in kindergarten or first grade (I forget which), we were living in Israel. My brothers and I went to the American school there.

Sam and his fellow classmates were in their room and were instructed not to go out the door while their teacher stepped out for a second to do something. Sam, being Sam, took the instruction quite literally. So he didn't exit via the door. He exited via the window (which was low to the ground and caused no injury).

And was quite righteously indignant when he got in trouble. After all, no one had told him he couldn't climb out the window.

His teachers humored him by preparing a list, just for Sam, of all of the things that he was and was not allowed to do, but which most children wouldn't require to be spelled out.

I'm seeing these tendencies in Zeke.

One of his typically two-year-old behaviors that we're trying to eliminate is hitting. He generally doesn't hit out of anger, but out of frustration. I know that as he matures, he'll learn to control his impulses, and the behavior will probably work itself out on it's own.

But it's still unacceptable. So we have house rules that he knows and that he is reminded of when he misbehaves.

The other day I popped downstairs to retrieve something from my bedroom. Josie was in her bouncy seat on the kitchen table, and Zeke was coloring or something. I came back up the stairs, rounded the corner to the kitchen, and saw that Zeke had climbed up on a chair and was bopping Josie on top of her head. Not particularly hard, but in a way that indicated he wasn't trying to give her an affectionate pat.

I picked him up from the chair, put him on the floor, and said, "Zeke, you cannot hit the baby. That is not acceptable. What's the rule?"

He thought about it for a second and said, "No hitting Mama."

That's true, but the rule is not limited to not hitting me, and he knows it.



  1. Okay, I didn't just laugh really hard and loudly at this.

    Well, maybe I did, but if no one but the cats heard me, did it really happen?

    Welcome to the club of literalists, analyzers and quibblers. Have you seen my gray hair?

  2. It is pretty funny, and I'd be lying if I didn't admit that part of me was sort of proud of him for trying to come up with a technical way out.

  3. You have one smart kid on your hands. I think Susan said Ryan is like this, and it causes a lot of trouble for im in school - exactly like Sam and the window. I remember Sam as a little little kid in Delhi, but don't remember his personality at all. Will definitely check out his Deep Thinkery blog.

  4. Hilarious. And such a bright little guy!

  5. Susan O.10:47 AM

    so funny! I just read this and thought of my son... Lisa is right! He's so literal you have to go over the list of EVERYTHING he can't do... Exhausting me and he's only 8! have fun! Just wait, your daughter will probably be the same:)