You can learn a lot about human nature from a 3-year-old.
This week I have learned two things from my grandson, Cayden. Number one, people do not like to be told what to do. And number two — boys like guns.
This is all pretty significant when you consider the current political debate about gun control.
Everybody is interested in the topic, and everybody agrees that something should be done — nobody in their right mind wants to see young children shot down in an elementary school. The problem is nobody can agree on what should be done.
First, let me say that when it comes to guns, I don’t really like the idea of shooting people. When it comes to killing someone, as my moral compass Andy Griffith would say, “They ought naught do that.” So my solution would be to take guns away. From everybody. All over the world.
Except that won’t work, because people won’t agree to the deal. I know this because of my grandson and the recent battle of the chicken stir-fry.
We had stir-fry for dinner the other night. A nice chicken vegetable thing, piled up on a mound of rice underneath. It was a one-dish meal. The problems started when my grandson, who has a Spider-Man plate with three separate compartments for food, noticed that the stir-fry dinner only filled up one compartment.
“HEY,” he said. “I got more holes for food.” He poked a finger in each compartment.
“Yeah well, it’s what’s for dinner, stir-fry. You want some cottage cheese for another spot?” I kicked myself for not giving him a regular plate.
“NO.” He was mad, and I could see the stubbornness kicking in. “I don’t like Tir Fwy. I not hungwy.”
He probably does like stir-fry. He likes a lot of things. But he was mad, and like-stir fry or not, hungry or not, he wasn’t going to be told what to do. He was the master of what went in his mouth.
“Eat it,” said his father, the president of my grandson’s world.
The battle raged, spitting and gagging occurred, and no stir-fry was technically swallowed. Finally the kid ran to his room at full steam, crying, “FINE I NOT YOUR BEST FWIEND ANYMORE!”
Later the president asked the kid, “OK, you want a peanut butter and jelly sandwich?”
“Sure!” my grandson answered, happily imagining he was the winner of the stir-fry war.
“Then you ARE hungry. No sandwich. You eat the stir-fry.”
In the end, the president won, because a big person can triumph over a 3-year-old. I am guessing warm stir-fry tastes better than cold. But someday Cayden will be a big person who doesn’t like to be told what to do.
The other thing I have learned from my sons and grandson — boys like guns. And swords. And anything that they can shoot, swing, pound or otherwise use to inflict damage. I’ve been shot with Play-Doh, a chicken wing, and a pencil. I’ve even been bombed with a rolled up wet Pamper by my full-grown adult husband Seth.
Is it learned behavior from TV or books or environment? I don’t know. They seem to emerge from the womb with an aptitude and appetite for violence. I am convinced if there were no guns or bombs or knives or swords in existence, boys would quickly re-invent them. Because they want to be brave, they want to be heroes, and they want to be brave hero warriors. And if you mix in some religion and god and moral validation for violent behavior, or some mental illness, or some perceived attainable power or financial gain as motive — well, you’ve got a problem.
So what is the solution? Will people ever stop fighting over stir-fry? Will humans ever really hammer their swords into plowshares? The answer is going to have to come from someone bigger and smarter than me.
Theresa Timmons’ column appears every first and third Sunday. She is an Elwood resident and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can learn a lot about human nature from a 3-year-old.
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