We exist in an unambiguous “act now, think later” society. Unspecified verdicts are made at the expense of a person’s better judgment or advisement to move ahead through an effort or speech, even if it most certainly may cause some discomfort. The usual rite of apology of a public face after performing an act deemed shameful–as politicians, athletes, and celebrities are wrought to do–is to issue an official statement of pardon, usually via media outlets.
What we rarely see is a logical deliberation of causes and effects, or a semblance of a real problem-solving methodology, followed by onward motion with the best course, accompanied by an upfront acknowledgment of the risks involved. The speed of social media relevance and character count restrictions exacerbates the issue, along with the desire to be famous for mastering a concise bluntness. People like to say what’s on their minds, even if inappropriate, for likes.
In essence, it is easy to incite drama. It is easier to ask for forgiveness than it is to ask for “permission.” This is the going rate.
This sounds strikingly similar to a baby who is turning over to a young toddler in seven weeks.
Jai is walking, talking clueless, but her actions are insistently determined. It’s as if her brain is older than the body she is in, and she is well aware of this malady. When we proclaim “No!” in a firm manner to a decision she has made, she shoots a shocked stare, eyebrows pursed, offense in her eyes.
These days, it’s “No!” to splashing in the toilet; “No!” to eating crumbs from the kitchen floor; “No!” to seizing her brother’s toys; “No!” to cruising on items that can tip over, like the trash can; and “No!” to attempting to get into Jrue’s bath with him. Like many parents, we have tested various expressions since this strong “no” is the ineffective equivalent of the bland “I’m doing fine,” or “She is nice.” Our favorites are currently “I wish you wouldn’t,” “Please abstain from that activity” or, of course, picking her up and plopping her down into another area.
Exploratory by nature, Jai can find herself in some precarious positions and verbally declares admittance of failure to regain mommy’s trust. One rolling example in our home is Jai’s need to taste leaves that float in when we open doors or that enter via our shoes. I will catch her in time sticking a crispy leaf into her chompers. Her face will register weirdness for a half-second, then she’d crawl on, mouth moving, as if all is valid.
Of course, mommy then has to aggressively sweep a finger through Jai’s mouth to retrieve the odd item, much to Jai’s babbling, tearful dismay. Because of this, she has also become quite savvy at hiding items under her tongue. Some minutes later, she will find me and put her arms in the air to be picked up. This is her attempt at a peace offering. If I oblige, I indicate forgiveness. If I ignore her, she abhors the rejection and begins to cry. Loudly.
This process is followed when she spits up something bizarre onto the carpet and bewilderingly watches me as I clean and chastise. Or when she’s perched half-on, half-off the couch, stuck, after we said to remain in place on the floor. Or when I scream at her because she is splashing her hands in Jrue’s newly-filled potty pot and sucking on her fingers. After the latter, I “punished” her by sitting her on the sofa where she has realized she cannot get down alone. When I finally picked her up in clemency, she put her head on my shoulder and nuzzled my neck, making everything in her world whole again.
This was after I scrubbed her hands and mouth out, of course, accepting the saga that ensued while doing so.
My daughter is like little letter A from the children’s book “Chicka Chicka Boom Boom,” originally published in 1989 by Bill Martin, Jr. and John Archambault. It is a delightful story that I experienced as a child starring the anthropomorphized 26 letters of the alphabet in a follow-the-leader game of dare up a coconut tree. Letter A starts the jaunt by telling Letter B, who tells Letter C, that he’d win in a race up a coconut tree. What follows is a mass exodus of letters crawling up the tree, which bends continuously at the heft of the weight, so much so that it eventually caves, sending the letters to a crashed heap on the ground below.
What’s even more fun beyond the book’s musical prose and playful repetition is, in an extended version of the book, the big letters go running to the pile-up to pick up and comfort the little letters, much in the way adults rescue kids when kids fall down. The little letters are, quite naturally, in all types of shape: D cut his knee; J and K are crying; O has been folded into himself; T has a hanging tooth. They are all recovered from the huddle by the time the moon rises…and just in time for little A to begin the dare up the tree all over again.
Jai is into adventure, which makes sense with a big brother. With her composure and fearlessness, she could, quite possibly, have the oratory ability to convince 25 friends to pursue her up a tree. We won’t put anything past her.
But until the day when “No!” has long expired, and she has developed enough brainpower to recognize that some actions, independent or otherwise, could hurt, we shall work to keep Jai on the ground, out of the trees, or from dangling from the couch, or from tasting any substance but food.