December 8, 2011
It’s a tough situation when a little boy shows up in a house inhabited mostly by grownups. These grownups have no idea about the interests of a modern child around the age five. What books does he like? What cartoons does he watch? Does he even watch TV? What food does he eat? What kinds of things, in general, entertain kids today?
These questions become very relevant and personal when your friends call you a few minutes before the beginning of a party and tell you that they haven’t found a babysitter, and could they come over with their boy? Despite the fact that you’re absolutely not ready for it, you tell them that yes, of course they could. You’re not going to say “No; admission into my house is not for minors”. Or “Come over when you child grows up”.
You’re overcome by slight panic, because a good host needs to make it so that the guests wouldn’t want to leave, and indeed felt wonderful throughout the entire evening – no matter what.
And so he comes over. He’s so small and a little scared. There are so many adults, and everybody is looking at him. There must be something they want from him. What could possibly be expected from them? It wouldn’t do any good to cry. You can’t hide behind your mom’s legs. Especially because dad had said that he is relying on you, hoping that you can behave yourself.
Everybody settles down around the table. The boy is given an extra chair, and now he’s firmly positioned with his mom and dad on either side. It turns out that he doesn’t want to eat what is served on the table. All the prepared dishes are unfamiliar, and don’t look like anything his mom gives him. They smell strongly and incomprehensibly. The boy shuts his eyes. He responds to his dad’s questions on the subject of whether he would like this or that with a “No”.
Then you start to ask the child – “So, what do you want?” Then you have a brilliant idea – maybe pizza will do.
He knows all about pizza, and he likes it. The boy quickly starts to nod his head. The beginning of dinner is further postponed; you need to order pizza.
The other guests – whose children were left at home – say that of course they will wait for pizza. They’ll just entertain themselves with some good talks until it is delivered.
Finally, everybody is eating and drinking. The boy has received his pizza, and is now wiggling in his chair, because a child couldn’t possibly spend as much time at the table as the grownups.
His dad said “He’s very independent. He can keep himself amused.”
The parents take out the books and toys they brought from home. However, by this time, another object has become the center of the child’s interest – the cat.
The cat doesn’t want to be friends. He snorts and runs away under the bed. The boy crouches and starts talking to the cat. The cat looked at him with distrust, and isn’t won over by the conversation.
I enter the bathroom, switch on the light, and yelp in surprise. The boy is sitting on the floor by himself, forgotten by everybody. “What are you doing here?” I ask. He says “I’m thinking”.
I tell him to come join us for cake and tea.