Friday, February 19, 2016

Mind Tricks and Dad

Master Blackwell is of the age now where manipulation is a tool he is beginning to hone.

And to sharpen this vital life tool, he's identified his father as his whetstone. He realized early on that his mother was rarely, if ever, swayed by surreptitious attempts to win his way. 

Pictured: Mrs. Blackwell's "Uncle Ben."
After all the student can never sway the master and, if the boy is as smart as I think he is, his mother will serve as the model he aims to emulate. 

On the matter of obtaining one's way while making nary a ripple as you proceed about the task, Mrs. Blackwell is without peer. She operates as an invisible hand, plucking the strings of her world so that the music plays thusly. 

It is an astonishing quality or maybe I'm just a particularly willing dupe, or maybe a bit of both. 

Regardless, I probably didn't recognize the extent of her skills until a couple years of our relationship had passed. 

She's as deft and disciplined as a samurai — and equally surgical.

So, not a bad role model if you're looking to develop your "make-people-dance-for-you" skills.

That said, the boy needs to get working on his objectives. It seems he pulls this tool out of the box without a project in mind.

For instance, on a recent morning I entered the boy's room to wake him and begin the day.

He immediately told me "OK, want to leave you alone now." Despite the invocation of the second-person, his message was clear: "Dad, leave."

Then moments later he sounded off: "Want daddy to stay!"

How do you say "No." to that face? Well,
it's quite easy when he's throwing a fit.
And so I returned, because anytime my son calls me "Daddy" I am reduced to a spineless oaf of a man who wishes only to do that which makes him happy.

And that feeling lasts for about two seconds until I return to his room and the boy greets me with, "OK want daddy to leave you alone now."

I might not be the sharpest of tools but I can take a hint. The boy wants daddy to stay in his room and when daddy gets there he wants daddy to leave.

There might be some deep, honest reason he's doing this. Perhaps he's really just this indecisive. However, I've resolved that it's more important that he know that daddy is not his yo-yo.

His foray into the dark arts takes other shapes too, though they are not all that different from those described above.

There are the weekday mornings in which I ask him what he wants for breakfast and he suggests waffles with peanut butter and jam. Then, once the waffle is on he says, "No. I'll not have waffles."

I'm usually rushing around the house and not the friendliest of creatures in the morning and I reply to him by telling him it's too late and that's all he's going to get.

Sometimes this triggers tears and a mini-tantrum. Other times, I think he can tell by the tone of my voice that daddy ain't slowing down and a tantrum would be fruitless.

That said, I almost always slow down because, as I mentioned, I'm a sucker for the kid making little requests with the word "daddy" attached to it.

To wit, I am more and more frequently finding myself accompanying him around the house instead of the other way around.

Still working on his "dad" game. 
Instead of him joining me in the family room to watch basketball, I more often am finding myself led to the basement to play Candyland inside of a kid-sized, red, yellow and blue dome tent.

And there are times when I'm sure I've got something important that just has to get done but instead I find myself pretending to enjoy a bowl of plastic spaghetti the boy has whipped up in his mock kitchen.

In that sense, the boy and his mother have much in common with how they use their gift. It's often to bring people together. And, even if I'm a bit delayed on the uptake, it's tough to argue against it once you've figure it out.

For his part, our new little guy still operates out of a simpler playbook. His settings include: smiling and cooing, wonderment, disgruntled, meltdown and sleep.

Virtually all of his problems can be fixed with a bottle, a new diaper or being held by his mom or dad. I'm going to enjoy that simplicity for as long as it lasts, which will likely coincide with the first time he calls me "Daddy."

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