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It’s been a while since I blogged about Simon. Given the title and ostensible purpose of this blog, that seems improbable. But ten days or so of schedule updates, health updates, and running updates has pushed the eponymous subject of Kid Amnesiac to the back-burner. Not in real life, mind you, strictly in the literary sense.

So, today I wanted to revisit a topic from just over a year ago. Last January, I noticed that Simon’s discipline of his stuffed animals bore an uncanny resemblance to our disciplining of him. I was amused then to watch Simon explain that Baby Bunny was playing roughly, to explain that Baby Bunny wasn’t trying to be bad, and to gently and correctly give Baby Bunny a time-out to break the cycle of undesirable behavior. It was, I knew, a mirror into my own parenting.

The last week or so has afforded me additional glimpses into that mirror, and into that one other parent.

When Ruby arrived here on Sunday, Simon was busy doing something on his own and did not immediately turn his attention to her. At which point Ruby stood with her legs at shoulder distance, elbows to her side, forearms up and hands splayed outwards at shoulder level.

“Simon,” she asked, “did I come here to have a play-date with Mr. Matt and Ms. Jessica or with you?”

I have heard her dad ask the same question a dozen times when Ruby tries to talk too much with her dad or other adults on play-dates. Right down to the posture and intonation, it was a perfect imitation of Greg.

A day or so later, Matt corrected Simon over his increasingly bad air hockey etiquette.* After the mini-lecture, Simon stood up, faced Matt, and got a little of his own back:

“Daddy, I don’t like it when you talk to me that way. It’s not nice, and it’s not respectful. It hurts my feelings, so you can’t talk to me that way any more.”

Matt can and in fact needed to talk to Simon that way. Simon wasn’t playing nicely, and Matt was trying to instill a sense of good sportsmanship. Matt explained in a serious and gentle tone that parents need to talk to their kids like that sometimes, that he was being very respectful to Simon, and that parents know more than children and have to teach them things.

I watched the drama from the dining room. And I have to say, I was highly amused to hear Simon parrot us so accurately. I was also pleased with his outburst. Not because I wanted Simon to give Matt a hard time, but because I knew I was seeing how Simon defends himself in a peer-group. He stood his ground really well!

My turn came Tuesday. We were turning left into the grocery store parking lot when the person in front of me screeched to a halt, leaving me partially blocking a lane of a very busy street. Alas, this is not a rare occurrence. Our grocery is located in a heavily congested part of town, and Louisvillians drive, for the most part, like idiots.** Tuesday’s issue was that the car in front me pulled into the lot and then immediately stopped to canvas the area for parking spaces.

This maneuver reminds me of people who reach the top of an escalator and immediately stop to figure out which way to go, oblivious to the fact that those behind them on the escalator need a place to put their feet when they reach the top one to five seconds later. This was a particular pet peeve of mine in Bay Area BART stations and at the San Francisco Shopping Center downtown.

Anyway, there I am, half hanging in Bardstown Road while the person in front of me neither continues forward nor turns down an aisle. As traffic approached, I honked. And yelled. And honked some more. And yelled some more. Right about the time I called the person in front of me a “total moron”, Simon admonished me:

“Mommy, that isn’t a nice word. I don’t like you using that word. And you are too loud; you are hurting my ears. So don’t keep being loud and using those mean words.”

It stands to reason that if Simon isn’t allowed to call things “stupid”, that “moron” is equally verboten. Unlike Matt, I did not admonish him in return or defend myself. Having been so respectfully and appropriately disciplined for violating house rules, I mirrored the desired reply:

“You’re right, Simon. I was upset about the car in front of me, but I shouldn’t have used that word or gotten so loud. I’m sorry if I hurt your ears, and I’ll do better in the future.”

That or leave him home when I grocery shop. Because the morons at the Kroger parking lot are unlikely to change!

*Air hockey etiquette: Matt gets this more than I do. What happens is that Simon gets upset about being behind in a game or even being scored on and pouts, suggests quitting, or starts playing in a jokey way (e.g. with four pucks at once or with his mallet upside down) to end serious play. Shades of Goldstein!

**I’ve driven in a lot of cities. Boston drivers are fast, aggressive, and not afraid of their horn. San Francisco drivers are fast and often spaced out. But for sheer annoyance: stopping inappropriately, running red-lights, turn signal failure, and veering in and out of lanes due to simultaneous eating/smoking/texting/cell phone gabbing, this city is second to none.

One Response to “The Disciplinarian: Part II”

  1. goldsteinrita says:

    In case any of your out-of-town friends think that you are exaggerating, I want to assure them that Louisville has the worst drivers anywhere.

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