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Sunday, December 5, 2010

Trouble! A Brief Study of Complex Reasoning in the Developing Male Brain

Shown here rejecting both the voices of motherly reason and basic Newtonian theories.
In the car tonight, there was one of those classic boy-to-boy exchanges that leave a parent feeling quite poorly equipped for child-rearing. And considering that this particular parent has been legally trained in the finer points of argument, this is a significant and humbling realization.  
And speaking of humility, I should have long ago given up on trying to instill any concept of reason into any member of the male species.
Back to tonight's drive. 
The winter holidays were approaching, and the boys and I were delivering a load of toys we had collected through a school-wide toy drive. Both boys were absolutely buried up to their necks in piles of new toys, which I admit, may have been an over-stimulating environment for any four-year-old boy--let alone one who had been kindly referred for a "Temperament Assessment" by his pediatrician at the ripe-old age of three. (Can you think of a nicer way to say "anger-management for toddlers"?) 
But I digress.
As the parent bestowed with the responsibility of safely transporting the generous collection of toys, I winced at the sound of anything that hinted that the highly vulnerable packages were being violated  in the back seat. 
Ben sneaking rats into the grocery store against better advice.
In due course, Benjamin cracked.  It was too much to bear.
With lightning speed, he grabbed and forcefully clasped a large board game to his chest. As his big brother sounded a shrill wail, Benjamin screeched that the game was "MINE!"
An eery silence followed.
I glanced behind me.
It was clear that Ben would not be relinquishing that toy while there was still breath left in his little body. 
And believe me, I know; I have been on the losing end of that death-grip before.
Contemplating my next move, I warily eyed the crime scene from my rear-view mirror. While I calculated the length and effectiveness of my reach, I noted with despair that the pirated board game was called "Trouble!"
Not wanting to engage in open warfare amidst rush-hour traffic, I reverted to reasoning.  A waste of time.  A big waste of time.
Alas, Benjamin did not care much for my tiresome explanation that the toys had been donated by Paul's classmates for the migrant workers' children. 
As usual, he rejected all my efforts to teach empathy. He sullenly ignored my well-calculated appeals for the "poor migrant children...who may not get much else for Christmas... other than the very toys...we were delivering... in this car... at this moment.... Like, right now?"
Instead, Benjamin bellowed that the game was "MINE... because...because... we never had one before!" 
Now I was beginning to understand the depths of the skewed sense of male logic I was up against. Considering this and still looking for a painless resolution, I actually contemplated whether anyone would really notice that one board game was missing from the holiday cache. 
This dangerous reverie was abruptly halted by my older son. 
A hard to break habit of sitting in the freezer at two.

Awash in all the wisdom his seventh year of life afforded, big brother Paul expressed his disgust with the whole exchange. 
He loudly retorted: 
"So?! We never had an octopus before. 
We never had an atom bomb before. 
That doesn't mean we get to keep one!"
Quiet ensued.
Another furtive glance into my rear-view mirror detected a sort of softening in Benjamin's demeanor. 
Slowly and quietly, Benjamin released his grip on the game. He turned away to silently gaze out the window.
At this point, one might like to think that my little hellion was deciding it was, after all, better to give than receive. 
Perhaps, he was finally learning the thus-far wholly elusive concept of sharing?
Not a chance. 
I am quite certain he was instead wondering how to spell "atom bomb" so he could add it to his Christmas wish list....

See above for rare footage of male primate courtship practices.

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