Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Same Thing We Do Every Night, Pinky

I seem to be raising a future criminal mastermind.  This is no surprise, considering my 1990s era plan to take over the world using socks.  (I still have several pairs of my world domination socks, and LO also seems to have acquired a few pairs.  I will be a benevolent and warm-footed leader.)  While I have had my own plans for mastermindery, I am worried that LO is beginning his career as a future James Bond style villain so young.  I need to make sure that my child uses his powers for good.

It all began when LO started realizing that he had hands.  Prior to about five or six weeks ago, the hands were just appendages that hung at odd angles and sometimes made unintentionally hilarious motions.  One day, J and I caught LO staring at his right hand.  You could see the wheels turning:  "Hey!  That's attached!"  This was a major breakthrough in LO's plans.  He realized that he had power over something.  This is huge for babies.  It can be difficult for us to remember how little power we *feel* we have over things as babies.  Little do infants know, they are masters at getting adults to jump for them.  But in terms of ability to do things for themselves, they have no power whatsoever.

Once LO realized he had hands, he started trying to figure out how to use them.  No one gave him the owners manual for these tools, so it's been somewhat slow going.  Fine motor skills are still a long way off, but LO has explored the wondrous possibilities that pushing and scooping affords him.  If there is a binky or a bottle on his chest, he can bring it closer to his mouth.  If there is something near his mouth that he does not want, he can push it away.  Oh, the incredible feeling of potency.  LO has dominion over something.

Yesterday, I got out the chain-link letters that J and I recently bought for LO's edification.  I felt like Calvin's dad when he realized that giving his son money was a terrible idea.  I first linked together the letters of LO's name and gave them over.  LO thanked me politely and held on to them, but I could tell he wasn't that interested.  That's because I looped a long link of 14 or so letters from the chandelier above his cradle.  I also looped together the remaining nine letters and handed them to him.  Those interested him for quite awhile--particularly the Q.  I suspect he liked Q because of all the wonderful words you make with it: quotidian, quilt, queen, query, quest, quarrel, quinine, etc.  Or it might have just been easy to hang on to and bang against the side of the cradle.  While I cleaned the kitchen yesterday afternoon, LO happily held onto his Q, banging the string of letters behind it while he stared at the letter links high above him, tantalizing him with their seductive shapes and colors.

When he started to fuss, I came out of the kitchen to see what was the matter.  Nothing and everything was the matter.  LO had his Q-string, but it was nothing, NOTHING compared to the letters tormenting him above his cradle.  He had dropped his name and was reaching with unutterable longing toward the hanging strand that taunted him a good two feet above where he lay.  He turned to me, his consistent abettor, and his eyes elegantly pleaded:  "I want, I want!"

"But you have the Q," I pointed out.

"Not enough!"  And he stretched his arm farther toward the enticing letters that were so far out of his reach.

I am practical by nature.  If we are destined to live under the rule of LO the Dictator, I think it would be helpful to be the beloved matriarch of the dictator's clan.  That way I won't be the first against the wall when the revolution comes.  So I picked up my little world leader and brought him closer to the letter links.  Hesitantly, with a kind of reverence, LO reached for the chain.  He grabbed for the letter U.  (Most would consider this to be a coincidence.  I think the child knew that you cannot have a Q without a U).

With a sunny face, LO sat in my arms and shook the chain back and forth.  Control.  Dominion.  SUPREMACY.  LO can manipulate his environment, and he is drunk with the heady feeling of power this gives him.  Today, plastic letter links.  Tomorrow, the world!

Thankfully, as the mother of the future world dictator, I still have quite a few tricks up my sleeve.  LO was in his swing snoozing within a half hour, and his plan for universal toy conquest was put on hold until after nap time.

If I cannot influence him to recognize that he cannot have the whole world, I can at least maintain a consistent sleep schedule.  Because you need your rest to be an effective autocrat.

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