Two Faces

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Dear J-

The big social obligation is over: as both my brother and I are visiting my parents wanted to host a party and while the turnout wasn’t huge it was respectable and most of all figgy got a chance to run around with her cousins. Typically when we meet up with family it’s in a restaurant where the norm is decorous ingestion of food, not screaming and jumping as four-year-olds are capable of for hours on end. The contrast was especially marked in comparison with the morning, when we went to the Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose. We picked a day that coincided with a couple of field trips and so she spent the morning getting jostled by bigger kids and pushed out of the way. The quiet figgy we saw was nothing like the bossy (let’s be charitable and say leader) kid we saw this afternoon, commanding fiercely.

I love that about her: the unerring ability to seize a comfortable relationship and twist it for her own ends, though it’s often hard to appreciate when I’m the one getting bossed around. It’s therefore hard to see her in the unfamiliar not wanting to take charge, though that’s no doubt because no one feels comfortable in awkward social situations (they wouldn’t be awkward if you felt comfortable, after all). We are just passengers on the ride some days, and we are in awe of how fast she has picked up the basics of manipulation and reasoning, trying to make us pawns without much success yet. We bribe her to get through the day (if this, then reward) and little tasks so I wonder how the rest of the childhood gets any easier.

We are getting older. Colds seem a bit more severe with every new virus and I know it’s not just because the bugs keep getting stronger. Our metabolism has definitely slowed down and the burgers stick around so much longer. There will come a time — and no doubt soon — when the charismatic lies she tells us will be indistinguishable from what we see to be the truth. The longer we keep guiding her though the better off we are in the long run and we just need to remind her who gets hurt in these situations. We’re getting older, and she has a long road to run.

Mike

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