Thursday, December 13, 2012

His Most High Cheesestick

 For much of yesterday morning my son insisted on calling me, "Mr. Daddy".  

And not in a nice way. I could tell by the look on his face that says "I sense that this is royally pisses you off - but technically there's sod all you can do about it." It wasn't originally irritating until an hour had passed and he'd started saying things like, "Mr. Daddy gets me something to eat." There are all kinds of things wrong with that sentence. Such as the fact that the tense is all wrong and that there's no please involved. And I distinctly remember a conversation where I told him that - once his speech becomes more developed - that he shall refer to me as His Most High Cheesestick at all times.

But the unspoken wrongness of my newly ordained title was worse. My son knows the names of the people he associates with. All are referred to by an actual name or their descriptive relationship - like Grandma or The Garbage Man. There are very few people or things that he has seen fit to include the title "Mister" for. The only innocent one is Mr. Horse - which is a cuddly toy he got last Christmas. Outside of that he also knows a Mr. Bumcheek and Mr. Winkie.I feel I should mention at this point that sometimes when I put my son to bed he will joke, "Mr. Horse is going to eat you..." followed by a higher-pitched squeal of, "Oh no! Mr. Horse ate your bumcheek!" In other words - any and all instances of the title of Mister include references to an arse or a groin. Which is pretty much what he was smugly calling me. The little snipe. And to think he was calling me that after getting Nutella all over his fat, arrogant face. That's quite a decent Ron Swanson chocolate-tache he's got there, mind you.

In equally worrying news my daughter saw fit to tell me - without any prompting or context, "there is absolutely no kissing in school Daddy." Okay. I had to ask if she meant between the school kids and she said yes - because that's included in touching. And touching other people is wrong. I felt the need to cunningly inquire about how much was included in this warning for kids not to kiss each other. Was this just part of a broader No Touching rule wherein the teacher had said, "so no pinching, no kicking, no hitting, no squeezing, no hair pulling, no kissing, no smacking, no anything each other - okay?" to them. Or had it been a set of rigid, dry instructions about inappropriate behavior that had been divided into sub-groups? Meaning one about aggressive physical contact or inappropriate touching between kids. And then possibly even a moment where the teacher had had to explain the uncomfortable message to kids that there are definite, rules in place where adults can't break those rules either - and if they do here's what to do if that happens. That's unpleasant but it has to be done. That's the bursting of innocence right there - because that's not your parents telling you about it (and it likely not making any sense) but another person your parents told you to trust.

Now obviously the single most powerful factor about children of my daughter's age is the enormous sense of innocence they ooze. It's a startling thing that I couldn't appreciate until I had kids of my own. Obviously I'd heard about the notion of it  many times - but frankly it had nothing to do with me so I didn't invest any energy into understanding it at all. But now I have kids and it's so apparent in everything they do. We live in such a hyper-sexualized, body-obsessed, smut-peddling society. That pervasive everything-is-sex image encroaches on almost every facet of life. So much so that it's warped our sensibilities to not only picture innocent behavior as innately sexual, but more-so to fear that other people will judge that innocent behavior as having sexual undertones of some type. I'm not going to even get into the darker, evil side of things. I'm just referring to the fact that things like kissing means a very narrow thing to kids. They don't even have the ability to comprehend what it can mean in other contexts. Instead to them it's forbidden for them in an almost rude sense. It's like saying "poop" in class. It's an entirely different dimension. For example I recall looking through the underwear pages of a Littlewood's catalogue as a kid with my sisters and counting all the bellybuttons we could see. Every other part of the women in underwear was completely invisible - but we knew that those bellybuttons were naughty. It's wrong, but only on that level. In broader terms my daughter not only doesn't know where on the Venn diagram of sex that kissing is, but she doesn't even know there is one. That sense of innocence is mindblowing.

All of which made it much more amusing when my daughter then followed up her, "there's no kissing at school" announcement with, "And if the teachers are caught kissing too they have to go and sit in the principal's office until the end of the day." Which was interesting to hear - especially if it's a real policy. Is there a special chair? Do they have to write lines on a blackboard? Actually these days it's probably a "cut and paste this on 500 pages in Microsoft Word - with a line break on every page". It was much more amusing though when I recounted the Teachers Cant Kiss Either rule back to her teacher later the next day. Instead of just laughing at how kid's take information that crosses those dimensional boundaries of comprehension she immediately wondered if there was any juicy gossip being missed. Oh I'll bet there is.

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