Mightier Than The Pen

Making The World A Bitter Place

Fear to Tread

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Deliberation is good. Considering many angles to a situation or decision is good. Taking one’s time to arrive at a course of action is important. You’d think that more processing = greater focus. You’d be wronger than a tutu on a Hell’s Angel.

One of my children walks slowly. We must always allow twice as much time to get anywhere than our own walking speed would indicate. This child tends to eat slowly, walk slowly, get dressed slowly, you name it. We can see in this one’s behavior a unique deliberateness, one that might prompt an observer to think that such a child would pay careful attention to the surroundings, to take extra care before proceeding. Such a child, you would reason, would never step in dog poop, because, well, so much attention is taken before each step forward.

Only it turns out that the attention is directed not toward the path in front of the child, but to everything but: conversations between random strangers; cats meandering through nearby yards; colorful decals on nearby vehicles; air molecules passing overhead. This need to take everything in, rather than affording extra awareness, actually diminishes attention to the task at hand: getting to the destination with minimal hassle. Thus the poop-covered sandal.

The kid gets it from somewhere, obviously. Yours truly has had his moments of absent-mindedness, notably the entire period between second and fifth grades (“Homework? What homework? We had homework today? I don’t remember any homework. Look, Mom, my memo pad doesn’t have anything written in it, so I couldn’t have any homework.”). Yours truly has also been known to walk into poles and slip off curbs, but yours truly prefers to attribute those incidents to fate and/or willful risk-taking.

But I am free to lapse into being judgmental when it comes to my offspring, of course. It’s also hard to square this one’s head-in-the-clouds approach to life with that of our oldest, whose ignorance of the environment is almost invariably and transparently contrived; the smarter they get, it appears, the stupider they pretend to be, hoping that might get them off the hook for engaging in verboten activities, such as continuing to pull on the handles of parked cars we walk past, then acting all surprised when one of the doors pops open. Gee, no one expected that. Imagine that! Pulling open a car door can cause the car door to open! Wow! Hey Mom! Look what I discovered! I’ll make sure to phrase it all nervously, though, because I don’t want it to seem intentional or anything. But wow, am I surprised! Really! I have my eyes open wide and my eyebrows raised to prove it!

And hey, how could they possibly foresee a sibling getting upset by the same thing that got the same sibling upset just a few hours ago? Really, I should refine my expectations of these poor souls. Only the super-intelligent could be expected to reason their way out of that paper bag.

The contrast also lies in the demeanor: the oldest, from a very young age, was always bounding ahead as far as possible, puppy-like, turning around occasionally to make sure he was still going the right way. The deliberate one wouldn’t be caught dead all the way in front; that might cause something important not to be noticed, such as that woman hanging out some laundry on her porch. Look, you can still see her from this angle if you just step right this –

Oh, yuck.


Written by Thag

September 23, 2010 at 11:25 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with , , , ,

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