Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Key

"No - he thinks I'm a keyhole Daddy." 

I've mentioned previously that very infrequently we receive in the mail a fake car key attached to a card stating that we could win some crappy American car. For the short period after we receive this my daughter clings to that key like a fifteen year old clings to the belief that they think they can pass for a twenty five year old at a bar. Then - as you tend to hear about kids - my daughter completely forgets the key exists and wanders off into other obsessions. During these periods my son will then take up the key and claim it as his. You can tell because if you approach him, ask him about or try and play with him in anyway involving that key he will remind you quite emphatically that it is his. Take this morning - he had grabbed it and brought it back into to bed whilst waiting for his mother to wake up (like a drugged elephant in the morning, she is). She would ask, "is that your key?!" He'd respond, "Mine..." So she'd then ask if it was for his car. "No. Mine." Because if it was for his car then in his logical processing the car also has some sort of ownership claim toward it. A few more questions as to what the key was for, why he had it in bed and what he intended to do with it were all met with the response, "....Mine!"

All of which is why it makes sense that an hour later they both fought over it so that they could stab the other one with it. It's actually a matter of pride to me that neither of them has really gone way over social boundaries established by us and grossly hurt the other. To a parent that really is astonishing - when you see the rage and struggle inside a child at the uncontrollable emotion that comes gushing out of them you really can imagine them stabbing you with scissors at some point. It's a testament to parenting that you can give them ways to understand and cope with those emotions so that they don't go nuts all the time. Adults do it so it's completely unsurprising that kids are able to choose when to step over the line. So I'm not talking about just being a violent fuckhead that uses physical bullying to get what you want. I'm talking about rational violence used to get something that you're aware is temporal and fleeting. In essence it's the very notion of how American foreign policy works with diplomacy, reasoning and bursts of extreme violence all wrapped in a comfortable blanket that makes it look reasonable to those that espouse it. To leave aside all the gross brutal violence endemic all over the place - every time I see that footage of Zidane take a step, seemingly stop for a very brief moment and then plow his head into Materazzi I see controlled child-like rational rage.

Of course - my son is only two. So when he was chasing after his sister red-faced with invective weilding key like a prison-shiv I was acutely aware that he hadn't been able to control himself. My daughter though is able to do that - and was deliberately ignoring all the other makeshift weaponry lying all over the place (blocks, heavy toys, solid wooden trains,  nail clippers, a hammer) so that she could wrestle the key off her brother and then show him that she could stab him with it but would rather yell that you shouldn't do that. I wasn't completely sure that's what she was planning on obviously. But every time my son ran at her she would softly knock him down, take the key off him and then hold it up to his face and tell him, "YOU DON'T HIT PEOPLE KEYS!!"

Hilariously my daughter's sense of stewardship and Big-Sisterness took over once I stepped in to lecture the two of them. I have some sense of congratulating and thanking my daughter for helping to teach her brother The Rules. But as a near-five year old she also can't quite figure out all of cause and effect. So when I picked him up, plopped him in a chair and started telling him off calmly she instinctively defended his actions. Two minutes ago he tried to plow a key into her eye and she very much knew it. Now she was berating me for accusing him of it. She made up the idea that he was pretending she was a door and was just trying to open her up. Then she claimed that he was driving her to the store to buy doughnuts. Amusingly you could see the notion of that flicker across his eyes when he wondered whether he could actually stab her with a fake key and end up with doughnuts.

It's been about twenty minutes since then and they're both sort of cold-shouldering me now for apparently fabricating a violent altercation between them. They're now sat side by side building a train track, sharing Goldfish crackers out of one bowl (actually putting on in their gob and handing another to their sibling) and giving me the stink eye. Next to me on the computer desk is the key. In a minute it's going in the garbage. Probably anyway. I'm torn between the notion that throwing it away avoids learning something and prevents the 90% of the time when it's a perfectly innocent prop for playing a game with. On the other end is the notion that keeping it will mean having to listen to them fight about it and then accuse me of shit-stirring after pulling them off each other. Actually - I have a pile of keys down in the basement. I'll give them ALL to them.

It'll be like making them smoke the whole pack each.

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