Thursday, January 19, 2012

Kid logic

"No, Mom.  I have to have MONEY today."

"You have money.  It's in your account.  You just give them your name, and they take the money out for you."

"Nuh-uh!  They said I need real money!"

"WHO said you need real money?"  I begin rooting through my purse for quarters and writing a note about the status of the little one's lunch account.  As I finish the note and come up with exact change, I shove it all into a plastic bag and thrust it toward the little one.

"Here.  Give this to the lunch lady.  She'll call me if there's a problem."

Suddenly, the little one looks sheepish.  "Maybe I don't need money."

I scrutinize his face.  "Did the lunch lady tell you that you needed money or did someone else say that?"

He ducks his head.  "It was Brandon.  He's a lunch buyer AND a packer, like me.  He said you have to have money."

"Well, that's between Brandon's mommy and the lunch lady.  YOU just need to give the lunch lady your name.  That's your mommy's deal with the lunch lady."

The little one hands the baggy back to me.  "Okay," he said, and the tears from this encounter abated.

But don't worry; there are more tears this morning.  Apparently, we need to have a note outside our door.  We need lots of notes.  Sometimes these notes are for Daddy:

Sometimes the notes are for the neighbors (in case they would like to try karate moves):

This morning, we have a checklist that I cannot quite figure out:

But it provokes tears because we need to write this note with a pen because that's what adults use to write notes, and there's a problem with this.  You see, the pens that Mommy has work by gravity.  The ink flows down to the paper so that you can write.  And the problem with the little one's activity is that he insists upon writing the note on the door where he has posted it above his head.  Hence, the ink in the pen would need to flow up, not down.

"NO, MOMMY!" he screams as I try explaining this to him.  "I NEED A NEW PEN!"

I keep three pens in my purse.  None works.  Surprise. 

"But we have to get this done," he insists.  "Or else my brother won't be able to ride the bus!"

I don't quite see the logic to this, but I respond with all the patience in the world...NOT.

"If you don't get moving right now, YOU'RE not going to ride the bus, and let me tell you, young man, if you miss that bus, I am not driving you.  No, sir!  You will walk to school!"

I grab his hand and drag him up the street with me.  The tears are streaming down his face, and I wonder how long it will take for them to freeze there this January morning.

The bus pulls to the stop when we are still a hundred yards from the corner.

"Hurry!" I prod him.

"Hug, kiss!" he hiccups.

I half hug him, half lug him toward the bus stop and kiss him on the knit cap.

"Hug, kiss," he hiccups again.  This time I get his cheek.  The hug deposits him on the bottom step of the bus.  I wonder what horrible things the bus driver thinks about the callous mother I am as the teary-eyed kindergartner makes his way to his brother's seat where they squeeze in three butts together--little one (butt halfway in the aisle), big one, and big one's best friend--because apparently it would be too distant to sit in one of the five surrounding seats which are sitting empty.

And as I walk back to the house discussing the morning's drama with the neighbor ("It's like the old joke," he says, "that while we were spending millions developing a pen that would work in space, the Russians beat us there because they decided to use a pencil on Sputnik."), I begin to think about other kid logic--"If I am really nice to you, you have to buy me a dog," "All boys drive their mommies crazy, right? That's why some mommies have girls," and "It's daytime in Korea now, so I don't have to go to bed because I'm half Korean"--and how it has an element of truth to it. 

Kid logic isn't wholly wrong.  I might have promised my son a reward for good behavior; it just wasn't a dog.  Every child sometimes drives a mom crazy, even though boys and girls tend to drive their parents different kinds of crazy and the vast majority of us still leave the gender of our children entirely up to fate.  And it was daytime in Korea at night, and he is half Korean.  It just doesn't mean he can stay up all night while he lives here.  It's the partly right piece of kid logic that both makes it so entertaining for adults and also so confusing for children.

One of my favorites is "Mommy was afraid of the dark.  That's why she married Daddy, and he has to sleep in her room."  It reminds me of religious dogma.  God has to do something.  We can't help but do something else--often something terrible like the Spanish inquisition or the torture of prisoners.  Don't get me wrong.  I thoroughly believe that we hear from God.  I just think that, like kids don't completely understand their parents, perhaps we don't quite have the full picture.  And I just wonder. How much of our logic is kid logic?  What would God say if he heard or saw us?  And if any of that makes us squirm, then maybe we should rethink our positions.

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