22 June 2010

Hair Splitting

NOTE: I know! Two posts in one day! But I actually wrote the other post a week ago. This is this week's post.

There’s a story in the Wolfe Family Lore about Aaron that goes like this:

One day, when he was about five or six, Aaron looked at his superhero action figures and decided that it would be really cool if they could fly. So, he threw one and off it went through the air like a bird or an airplane—at least until it came across an archenemy known as The Mirror. Well, this made a loud thumping noise, which to a six year old is a fabulous, terrific, fantastic sound. He therefore did what any young boy would do, which was to throw the superhero again and again. THUMP! THUMP!

To the adult (Aaron’s dad) working in the next room, this was not such a fabulous noise. In fact, it was downright irritating. So his dad went into the room and told Aaron, “Stop throwing your action figures against the mirror.” Pretty clear instructions, right?

So imagine his surprise when not a few minutes later, he hears another THUMP! He runs back into the room and says, “I told you to stop throwing your action figures against the mirror!”

“But I didn’t,” Aaron protested innocently. “I threw them against the wall.”

There’s also another story about his mom telling him not to draw on the wall, so Aaron came across the lovely idea of using Chapstick to draw on the walls, because it was clear and therefore couldn’t be seen and therefore wasn’t really drawing (until the sun hit it and then it was clear as day, and also almost impossible to get off the walls).

I used to laugh at these stories, but lately they are starting to worry me. They are worrying me because Eamon Wolfe is his father’s son through and through. I’ve already told you the story about Eamon and the Elmo Phone, and his belief that taking a toy from another child is okay if you convince that child that you’re actually just trading.

Well, today at the gym, Eamon had another Incident. It was free play at his gym for kids, and there was a bunch of other toddlers there. Eamon started a game of holding two small balls, running them over to the small basketball hoop, and putting them through one at a time. The other toddlers saw, and quickly joined in for some good old-fashioned parallel play.

Everything was going fine until Eamon decided that he wanted another ball. He figured out how to hold two balls under one arm and then had his other hand free for another ball. A boy about his age also had two balls, so Eamon tried to take the ball away from the child with his free hand. My mother jumped right in and told Eamon that he could not take away toys from other children. Eamon looked at her, sighed in frustration, and then apparently hatched a plan.

Here’s what he did: he went over to the basketball hoop and pretended to throw his balls through. PRETENDED. When the other little boy saw, he also went to throw his own balls into the hoop, and as soon as he dropped the ball, Eamon snatched it up.

My mother, of course, immediately took the ball away from him, told him it still wasn’t okay even though the other boy had officially dropped it, and gave the ball back to the other boy.

But still. Do you realize what this means? Eamon is processing things just like his father. It wasn’t stealing when he took the Elmo phone—it was trading. This latest gym incident wasn’t snatching, either, because the other boy dropped his ball on purpose. (Never mind that Eamon specifically manipulated the situation each time to induce the child to voluntarily give up his toy. How long before we have kids ringing our doorbell, begging to whitewash our fences?)

My other big worry? I can’t live without chapstick. Maybe I should just go ahead and cover all the walls in clear plastic contact paper?


Wolfe said...

Ok, so it was the mirror, then the wall, and I was 5 or 6, not 8. But the gist is right.

Kate said...

Yes, yes, all right. It's fixed.