In a world of rules and regulations, it is often refreshing to see rebels standing up for change and demanding that the ordinary should become extraordinary. Now that I am a parent I can boil this once noble sentiment down to one word: anarchy. My son, for example, is an anarchist. Authority is his nemesis and his seemingly futile daily struggle is against the enforcers (i.e. his parents) of this evil regime that imposes on his life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness (aka playtime and do-whatever-I want-time). The radical laissez-faire policies of the Tea Party are centrist at best for my son. His motto, although he cannot say it or spell it (yet) is: “Laws are meant to be broken.” Reasoning is for pseudo-intellectuals who read books on the human condition and try to “talk” to him like an adult (“Do they realize that I am a toddler?”). He relishes punishment. It builds up his tolerance for sitting in his crib to “settle down”.
These reprogramming efforts by the enforcers only heighten is meditative state as he learns to tune out their adult gibberish and think of his happy place where ripping books in half and hurling milk and Cheerios on the floor is welcomed by everyone around him with warm applause and giddy laughter. One of the two enforcers (the tall chubby fellow everyone calls Daddy) even used a line from Bill Cosby to try and intimidate him “I brought you in this world, I’ll take you out. And doesn’t make any difference to me ‘cause I’ll make another one looks just like you.” – yeah, whatever pops. Not like the old fart can keep up with the kid when he tears down the street and tries to lose him in traffic. The panicked look on the old man’s face is priceless. The playground is another battlefield where stall tactics include crouching under the jungle gym just out of reach, splaying his legs on the swings so he cannot be removed and screaming for help when he is picked up in an attempt to leave the area to name just a few. The way he sees it, Curious George marathons are the ransom you pay for his cooperation. Otherwise he gets bored while people putz around the kitchen trying to cook a meal which is vegetables anyway so who are you kidding? Give him George and he’ll sit and watch and maybe if you behave he’ll eat a few spoonfuls before scurrying off to pull the toilet paper into heaps on the bathroom floor or pull all the pillows and the comforter of the bed. Why does he do it? He claims he doesn’t know. The moment he finishes a puzzle he claps and looks very self satisfied the tortured artist then emerges and decides to criticize the work as too “cookie cutter” and “conventional” so jumping on it and then tearing it apart while hooting with delight brings him squarely back to his anti-establishment roots. By this time the enforcers are tired. Weakened by the insurgents repeated assaults on the institutions that create boundaries. Psychologically they are devastated. He is always one step ahead and in their mind. Like a virus he rapidly mutates and deftly adapts to whatever is thrown in his path to stop him. The enforcers try a few “old school” tricks. A last ditch effort to corner him and contain him. They draw a bubble bath and once the potent brew has sapped him of his core strengths he is offered warm milk, a pacifier and blankie. The ruse works. His eyes flutter and close. He feels deceived, but the satin trim on the blankie rubs against his nose and the smell of unscented hypoallergenic laundry detergent intoxicates him. Visions of lollipops and heaps of vanilla ice cream take over his once sharp and mistrusting mind. Authority has once again prevailed and as night overtakes the land, the enforcers step gingerly over the toy strewn floors picking up what the remnants of the daily struggle between order and lawlessness. Tomorrow once the warm milk wears off and the pacifier falls from his mouth, the anarchist will pick up where he left off the day before and the enforcers will have to dig even deeper into their bag of tricks to restore law and order to the land even if it takes them all day.