The Young Master, who is fast approaching the age of four, has an increasingly varied vocabulary, the origin of some of which I cannot fathom. He also has an increasingly active imagination. Both of these changes are quite a lot of fun.
At the same time, the Lad’s growing and exploring and the Lass’ beginnings of the same have forced us as Parents to establish an ever-growing set of Rules in the house. The Rules tend to consist of things I never thought I’d utter, much less pronounce in a loud, house-wide voice of Law: “New Rule! From now on, everybody keeps their fingers out of their butts, got it?”
This morning, for example, we were horsing around in the Young Master’s room. He was playing GeoTrax. I was cuddling with the Lass on his bed. For some reason, I looked over to the wall beside his bed and noticed a few, um, dried brownish things on the wall. “Hey,” I said, calling my son over, “did you put boogers on your wall?”
The Lad glanced at them. “No.”
“It looks like there are boogers on the wall,” I said.
“They’re not boogers,” he said. He held up his hand in a sort of calm-down-and-take-it-easy gesture that he’s gotten from who-knows-where. “It’s just Mickey.”
Mickey. As in Mouse. He has an
interest obsession with Mickey Mouse of late, something we’ve at least passively encouraged since we’ll be going to Disneyworld in about a month. We thought it would be good if he knew who Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, and all the rest of the blokes were prior to arrival. He’s very excited about the trip, of course, and he’s taken to seeing Mickey in all sorts of things: put three plates on the table — one on the side and two on the ends — and he’s liable to laugh and point out that it’s “Mickey” and his two ears. This pretty much goes for any triangulation of roundish objects, which apparently remind him of the three circles that make up Walt’s most famous creation.
I looked back at the boogers. There were three of them. Two in a line, and then a third, slightly bigger, below and between them.
“It’s just Mickey,” the Lad repeated. Then he pointed down a bit on the wall, where I hadn’t looked. There was a second set of boogers there. “And Minnie.”
What to do as a parent? Clearly, the placement of one’s boogers on the wall beside one’s bed is improper behavior. At the same time, the creation of two cartoon mice from such an abstract medium is, well, rather impressive. Not quite Picasso’s cubist period, but pretty amazing nonetheless.
“See?” The Lad said happily, pointing back to his bolder creation and wanting to be certain that I could see to the heart of his artistic vision. “It’s not boogers. It’s Mickey.”
“I see,” I said. “But you shouldn’t put boogers on the wall.”
“It’s not. It’s Mickey.”
“But, um, what did you make Mickey with?”
He thought. His fingers moved in reflexive memory toward his nose but stopped just short of diving in for some more wall-greasing finger-paint. “Boogers,” he said.
I nodded, proud. But clearly this was not only a learning moment, but also a time for establishing a new precedent of Law. “Okay. New Rule: From now on, we don’t put boogers on the wall. Understand?”
The Young Master looked a bit crestfallen. The trials of the budding creative mind. The portrait of the artist as a young toddler. “I understand,” he said quietly.
“Good,” I said. And then, lifting the Lass up off the bed, I stood up and began to wonder if I ought to write these Rules down somewhere.
In stone, perhaps?