Thursday, April 16, 2009


Kids like rules. Always have, always will. Those little monsters running amok in the grocery aisles? Chasing through restaurants like banshees? Wreaking havoc amidst the flowerbeds? They're just looking for some one, any one, come on people ..... Make Me Feel Safe.

You try. As a parent, you're not sure if you're stunting their creativity by protecting the sanctity of the wallpaper, but you try to strike a balance. Starting when the kid is an infant is infinitely easier than waiting til you've decided the little beast is a sentient being after all. Saying "no" to someone without verbal skills is lots easier than arguing with a taller-than-you-are teenager. And once you get into the habit of establishing the boundaries, it happens on its own more often than not. Without realizing it, you're keeping the Burrow walls intact.

G'ma has "the look". Come home late for dinner? Throw a snowball at the school bus? One look at her face and you are quaking in your boots. She never has to say a word. It's the look. And it's not anger or fury or disgust you're seeing. It's more along the lines of "I can't believe you were so foolish as to do that which will cause this look to appear". No harrangue. No argument. Just the look. As I grew older, I began to see her smile behind the look. Not a smile that the recipient noticed, but the smile in her heart as she laughed at the foolishness of the act and reveled in the power of "the look". The punishment was in the anticipation, the dread, the self-flagellation the miscreant inflicted upon herself. And G'ma didn't have to think of anything else to do or say; "the look" did it all.

Are there blogging rules? The Big Cuter says "no", that timeliness and consistency are vastly overrated and that there is no cyber-spatial expectation that I will post at the same time every day or that the posts be uniform in length or content. All this freedom - I'm like the ground squirrels in the front yard, digging tunnels everywhere with impunity. Wherever they come up, the squirrels are happy, it seems. There are snacks (the tunas from the cacti) at the entrances and nibble marks on my newly planted desert marigolds, and how do they climb those fish hook cacti without getting stuck on the thorns? No one is in charge, as far as I can see. Certainly, I am not. And yet, when the coyotes stroll across the street the squirrels are nowhere to be found. Did they go to Squirrel School to learn to hide? There's not a Captain Squirrel herding the laggards down the holes. No squirrel alarms are heard. Yet they are gone, safe, protecting themselves, following rules known to them alone.

Like the ground squirrel, here in the Burrow I'll come up where and when I want, leaving detritus in little piles, while following the rules which keep me safe. And I'll be happy.

"You know more than you think you do"
Dr. Benjamin Spock

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