06 November 2014

The Hidden Emotions

A photographer friend, LauraJanePhotography, was over for supper and snapped this of the fearless wonder. 

Eason (and his siblings) have been lately playing in a large, empty culvert/drain pipe that empties/opens by our house.  There is a club with some name I cannot remember.  There are flashlights.  They've been reading City of Ember with their father, and there are purposeful parallels being drawn. 

I told him (and them) that that was fine as long as they always let me know where they are (just like the woods behind our house), but that if it ever starts raining they have to get out immediately. It's bone dry 90% of the time, but when it rains, the neighborhood's storm water will come through it, and it won't be safe for playing. 

They all buck us.  They're just not yes men.  That's an understatement.  But, we don't want unquestioning obedience.  We want obedience, respect, and trust, but we've never shut down questions about our reasons (though we try to require a certain tone).  But, though they all buck us, they buck us on different things.

Ada Brooks has always been suspicious about whether we (or anyone can....) actually *know* more than she does.  One famous quote from years back was "Of course God can make a square circle.  That's the silliest thing I've ever heard.  I mean.. I can make a square circle..."    All of those philosophical problems are just idiotic and shortsighted, and if they would ask her, she'd straighten them out.  But, if I tell her to hold a knife a certain way or wear her seatbelt, she's like "okay.  Sure.  I don't want to die." 

And Collins has always been emotionally freakin' determined.  For example, if he's sad, you can kiss his behind before he magically becomes cheerful.  If he's mad, he's mad and you might as well sit on a tack before trying to change his mind.  If he's happy, all is well no matter what you say.  I always talk about controlling one's emotions. Well, I cannot control Collins's, but it seems he can.  Just only in the way he sees fit.  But, like his sister, if i tell him "Hey - that will kill you." He's like "Oh.  Sure.  Well, then I'll stay away."

Eason... not so much.

If you said, "who is your least strong-willed?" I wouldn't hesitate.  Definitely Eason.  He can be talked into most things.  He wants to please.  He wants to conform his behavior to the right, and he wants to find the right in what his betters say is right.  But his stubborn Achilles heel is that he believes himself to be entirely invincible.
And, problematically, his experience continues to affirm this delusion.  As many times as we've run him to the emergency room, he's never had a serious injury - no surgeries, no casts, no overnight stays in the hospital.  Staple his scalp back together, and off he goes.

So, I told him, "You can play in the culvert, but you must be careful.  If there is water, immediately return."

He was all, "I am invincible.  You are crazy to ever be cautionary."
I was all, "People drown. I want you to have fun and be adventurous.  I also want you to be alive." 
He was all, "Whatever. I am still invincible.  You are still a worrier."
I was all, "Promise you hear me and will obey. Now.  Say yes ma'am."
He was all, "Yes ma'am............"  

Complete flippancy.  His siblings nodded and promised and earnestly submitted.  He submitted in word, but you could tell he was patronizingly patting me on the head.

And yet...

Last night, he started wailing from upstairs 45 minutes after being tucked in.  He had worked himself into a complete state over the possibility of being swept away into drowning in the drain pipe.  From a conversation we had three days ago.

His (worry-wort engineer) father was like "My heavens child... that's not going to happen."

"But Mama said..."

"And she was right to say that.  But you're fine.  Just use your head.  Just mind the rules.  Just don't hang out twenty feet into the culvert when it starts raining.  Seriously.  Also, if you're scared, feel free to not go in there.  Lordy."  

His latent, genetic anxiety is so great that despite having had no scary experience, he cannot sleep. 

The other two... entirely unaffected.  Entirely confident. 

The energy it takes to truly know an adult is infinite.  It is the same for children.  And we have four (!) of them. 

If someone could figure out how to motivate him toward safety without giving him panic attacks, I'd be forever grateful. 

The distance from flippant to anxious for my second child is mystifyingly short.  In fact, he seems to be able to be both at the same time. 

I am tired.  
He is wonderful.
 I thank God for protecting him day in and day out. 

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