Thinking like a 3-year-old, by George
I still get the imaginative part no problem, which means I'm pretty quick on the uptake when Boots is Thomas and declares that I'm Sir Topham Hatt. It's a little disquieting to have him think of me as a balding old man, but I'll play along.
Where I stumble, though, is in getting into their little heads and figuring out why they do some of the insane things they do. There's usually a reason for what seems like pure devilment, and it's usually something that makes sense in their world.
I'd forgotten that until Big Guy brought a Curious George book home from school last week.
It was "Merry Christmas, Curious George" - because Christmas books are appropriate for any season when you're 5 - and it features all the usual good-hearted monkey antics.
In this adventure, George scampers off at a Christmas tree lot and gets separated from the man with the yellow hat. George winds up at a children's hospital, where he decorates the tree with toilet paper, patients' charts, X-rays, casts and assorted other medical paraphernalia.
He and the children were thrilled with the decorations, until Serious Scolding Nurse comes in, scowls and scoops George up and out of the room.
"Aw, I feel bad for George," Big Guy said. "He was just trying to make it nice."
My heart sank as he said that, and I immediately felt bad for my boys. Particularly the little 3-year-old monkey boy known as Boots.
Big Guy is largely past the well-intended colossal screw-up stage, though he still can pull one occasionally.
Boots, however, remains in the throes of it. Like this week, when he decided to "help" empty the trash can in my bathroom. Problem was, he emptied everything into the toilet.
He knew he was in trouble because he scampered out as fast as his little Bambi legs could carry him, before I could even see how "helpful" he'd been.
Once I found it, I went to my bedroom, closed the door and pounded the crap out of the pillows. I calmly opened the door, found him and asked why he did it. And he just looked up at me big-eyed and said, “Because I had to.”
“Because I had to.” Argggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhhh.
The thing is, I'm sure he really did think he "had to." Why he thought that, though, likely will not be revealed for months.
That's about how long it took me two years ago to figure out why he kept transporting the entire contents of Big Guy's underwear drawer to the diaper pail. I eventually grasped the logic one day when I caught him in the act, muttering "ewww, stinky!" the whole time.
If his "underwear" -- his diapers -- were stinky and went in that bucket, then that must be where Big Guy's should go, too.
It took me even longer -- close to three months -- to understand why Boots now insists on wearing his underwear backward. I let it go for the longest time, though inwardly I cringed for him. Recently, it crystallized when I handed him a pair the "right" way and he balked.
"Nooooo! I can't see Thomas if it's that way," he complained, putting them on backward anyway. What are the manufacturers thinking, putting the pretty pictures on the butt.
And I'm sure one of these days I'll understand why he “had to” empty the trash can into the toilet. Maybe he thought it was a faster method than all that toting outside and then taking the big cans to the curb.
Who knows. But I do know I need to be a little less Serious Scolding Nurse and a little more patient in figuring it out.
Copyright 2009 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.