Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The Snitch

John stated that his first skill was crying and I have had time to reflect on that. I think he developed one before that. John was an unusual baby in that he knew right from wrong early on, I mean early on. He could not talk and already knew what was right and what was wrong. He closely observed the behaviors of other members of the family, quickly determined what the rules were, and became a judge on the full observance of the rules. When he saw something that was being done contrary to the rules, he would say the only syllables that he knew "Ah da da" When saying this he would point to the person violating the rules. The girls were always pulling something on one another, this sibling rivalry was fierce. When a violation did happen there was John, barely able to walk, pointing his finger at the miscreant and saying "Ah da da." Papa would take notice and the strap would come out. Monica reported to me that she hated to hear that phrase and hated him for saying it. You see, she got her share of strapings. Of course, if you do not want to get a strap do not do the crime. But it was far more important to try to stick it to the sibling, the possibility of getting caught was merely a hazard for the play. This skill John developed was "snitching." As good as he was at knowing right from wrong he never got the message: "Thou shall not snitch on ones sisters." In this sense, he was a little tyrant and, in a way, influenced family interactions. All without being able to talk.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Is Crying A Skill?

When John said his first skill was crying, I scoffed and thought, crying is a reflexive, emotional response to an event. Some days have passed and I have had time to reflect on my first response, I was wrong. John did indeed develop crying as a skill because he got rewards from Mamma and Pappa by doing so. I recall many instances where a food was put onto his plate that he thought he would not like he would immediately start to cry. The rule in the house was, eat everything on your plate, or else, (this was enforced even though Mamma never ate some foods.) All five of us kids were amazed that John did not "get it" when he cried. He actually got away with it and Mamma would remove food from his plate. Of course, as with most things in life, that did not always work. John, a great gamester, would then up the stakes by rushing from the kitchen and throwing himself on a daybed that was in the next room and cry loudly. This soon became his total ploy: cry at the table, rush from the room, throw himself face down on the daybed and cry. Many a time we had finished eating and he was still on that daybed crying. Mamma would remove something from his plate and he would return to eat something. John's behavior was so predictable that Bernie and I contrived to play a trick on him. Just before dinner, without John knowing, we moved the daybed from the wall and into the center of the room. Sure enough, John started to cry, ran from the room and threw himself on the daybed that was not there. He hit the floor with a loud thunk. Now his crying picked up a few decibels (we knew the origional was faked) but now hitting the floor he felt some pain or perhaps surprise. He really wailed. My recollection is that Pappa berated both Bernie and I, but he did so with a curious little smile in the corner of his mouth.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

A Sad Day

There are three Republican requests for money on my desk. They will go unfilled because of my disillusionment with the party. They left me when they became big spenders, the bridge to nowhere is an example. My party origionally wanted less government but has now come under the illusion that there is a lot of money to spend. I think I am ready for a new party - perhaps a Constitution Party - that would embrace the principles of smaller government, or at least return more power to the States. This party would include the Fair Tax as a plank in their platform. To this I would gladly contribute.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

First Skill

While musing the other day, I wondered what was the first skill I acquired. What was it that I excelled at early on? It then came to me, catching flies. Not baseball but flies as in insects. While in the alley, on Navy Street, I had watched an older boy catch a fly that had landed on a garage door. I immitated what he did and caught a fly. This at the age of five or six, can't remember which. I became very good at it and never missed. Once caught, it was obligatory to rip off a wing and throw the fly to the ground, smetimes stepping on it and sometimes not. Of course, other boys could catch flies but sometimes they missed. Not me, I was perfect and took quiet pride in doing it so well. It did not occur to us to have a contest although the radio did announce a contest as to how many flies a person could swat in one day. I remember an announcement that somebody had swatted over two hundred and some of us boys had discussed how they could prove it. Not that it was a big deal to us, just idle curiosity. How it is done. The hand is placed in front of the fly and slowly brought closer to the fly. When about five inches from the fly, a quick, snatching movement is made and the fly will elevate into the hand. (A fly takes off flying backwards.) It became a habit, whenever I walked into the alley, to walk over to the garage door, catch a fly, rip a wing off and throw it to the ground. I think I did this until I grew up, at about seven years of age. And your first skill was what?