Curiosity has been anecdotal-y blamed for killing many a feline. I might suggest, however, that much more than cats get killed when curiosity takes over. For example, this morning, in a flurry of gathering items to get ready to leave the house (two kids, coats, hats, gloves, carseat, blanket, toys, snacks, water bottles, box to ship at UPS, laundry tag to pick up coat, items to return to our neighbor, grocery list, directions to grocery store, keys, wallet, cell phone, diaper bag, diapers, wipes, powder, etc.) I completely forgot one crucial item for my day: deodorant. As Sean would say, "Oh Man!" Or as I said to myself a mile from home, thinking of the stench that could emit from my armpits later that day, "Son of a..!" One might argue that this forgetful moment was not brought to you by curiosity but rather by distraction, and that could be correct. But the following are examples of when curiosity really stonewalled a situation.
So as to not leave Audrey out of these posts, this first story is about her. She has been an easier child on us all the way around. She seems to be mild-mannered, easy going, even-keeled, and any other lackadaisical term you can conjure. My only point of frustration with her has been in the past two months. Plagued by ear infections, her sleep has been disrupted. From the age of 8 weeks, this girl slept through the night, but with ear infections, she has been up every 2, 3 or 4 hours, and this bought me a one-way ticket to crazy town. Sleeplessness will make me delirious, slap happy, and irritable (hence the posts about me nearly killing a 2 year old I know). Yet, despite her sleeplessness, Audrey maintains a pleasant attitude. Even when awake at 3am, she is often smiling, singing, and talking to me. And even when I think she and I might be nodding off to sleep, her curiosity takes over. If I could verbalize Audrey's mind, it would go something like this:
Audrey: ahhh, almost to sleep, almost to sleep, eyes fluttering shut, about to snooze.... what is this fabric my hand feels? Is this a leather chair? My goodness, this feels funny; I'd like to scratch it: scratching, scratching, scratching. And here are my fingers, scratching, scratching, scratching. Well this is interesting! I didn't know leather feels this way!
I re-position her so that she can't touch the chair.
Audrey: aaaahhh, head on mom's shoulder, relaxing, closing eyes, drifting off to sleep.... what is that shadow I see? It seems like the faint outline of a flower. Is that an orchid? There are many petals on there! Those are strange flowers! I like flowers. Maybe I can talk about that. Maybe I can think of a song. Let me try exercising my vocal chords!
I position her away from the orchid, trying to find a dark corner where she can not see anything.
Audrey: aaaaannnnd ready to sleep, a little yawn here, rubbing my eyes there, just snuggling in, it feels great to relax...
Sean wakes up in the other room screaming - yelling for Tom, wanting someone to help with his blanket.
Audrey: WHAT IS THAT I HEAR? Is that my brother? Where is he? Can I see him? Does he see me? Can we play together? Can I talk to him? I will try talking to him. I will waive my arms and try to talk to him. I will use my vocal chords! I will find out what he needs!
Just last night, Sean and I get into a disagreement about his supper. He eats his chicken, but he does not want to eat his rice because it has "green stuff" in it (olives). Fair, that's fair, I don't even know if I really like olives as an adult, so I understand that he doesn't want to eat them. Fine. We tell him that he doesn't have to, he can set them aside. Which he does. Slowly. Meticulously. This process goes so slowly that Sean eventually leaves his uneaten rice to go play with his bus and plane. However, when he later asks for a cookie and chocolate milk, the response is "no" because he's not finished his dinner. He goes back and forth from the table to the toys, and while contemplating the rice, the issue grows larger than just the "green stuff."
Sean: Mama, I don't like the yellow things.
me: What yellow things?
Sean: Mama, you take the yellow things out.
me: Sean I don't know what you're talking about: show me the yellow things.
He points at the sauteed onions mixed in with the rice, chopped fine so as to not be too big.
Sean: I fink (read: think) those yellow things. They are yucky.
me: Sean, I can't remove those, they're onions, and they're mixed in with the rice. You can either eat them or leave them, but you only get a cookie and chocolate milk if you eat your rice.
He's bouncing up and down in his chair, angry, livid. This goes on for 30 minutes. Back and forth between trying to extract the green stuff and yellow things. Strangely when he tries to remove these things, there's nothing left for him to eat. This tantrum is escalated when I take the plate from him (of course with ample warning, with the counting to 3, with letting him know that he has one last chance to eat it) because he's not eating anything and it's time to brush teeth. The tantrum takes a brief hiatus while we read his favorite story (Robert Munsch's Pigs) and say prayers. I even tell him goodnight and walk out of the room with no tears from him, but 3 minutes later, he is yelling for me.
I hear him stumble out of his bed and make his way to the door, the sound of his yelling getting ever closer. He slowly makes his way down the hall towards the living room.
Sean: Maaaaamaaaa! I have a runny nose!!
me: Well then go get a kleenex and take care of it.
Sean: Maaaaammmmaaaa! I need you to do it!!
me: No you don't. Go get it yourself and then throw it away.
He makes his way back to his room, obtains said kleenex and wipes his nose, still crying, still reviling the presence of green stuff and yellow things in his life, ruining all of his fun. Those things and ME, of course, ruining all of his fun.
Sean: Maaaaaammmmaaaa! What do I do with this???!!!
me: Throw it away, Sean.
At this point, Sean completely stops crying. Utter silence from his bedroom. I can't see him, but I know in this moment that he is lightly flicking his upper lip, the extra skin from his cleft lip surgery his perfect "thinking spot" for as long as he could maneuver his fingers.
Sean: (curiously and quiety) Where can I throw it away, Mama?
The question is so calm and sane that it's unnerving.
me: Throw it in the trash can.
Sean: Where is the trash can, Mama?
Now this question is cruel, because I have no doubt that's STARING at the trashcan in his room. I realize that this is only his latest stall tactic for not wanting to get back in bed.
me: It's right there, Sean.
Sean: Right here, Mama?
me: Yes, right there.
Sean: Which one, Mama? This one right here?
me: Yes, Sean, the trash can right by Audrey's dresser.
We are rooms away, but his quiet voice floats to me like nails on a chalkboard, and I am ever so slightly twitching. On the inside.
Sean: This trashcan, Mama?
I can hear his lid of the trashcan hitting the wall, a sure sign his foot is on the footpedal, opening and closing the lid.
me: YES! Just throw it away! In the trashcan!
Sean: Oh. Okay.
Curiosity killed the tantrum. And it damn near killed me.
Being the Christmas season, we have a nativity set under our tree. Tom starts the season by telling Sean that he can't play with the set. That lasted for about an hour and then Sean took all the pieces and has been playing with them ever since. We've talked about the Christmas story, and we've explained who all the characters are. Simply put, Sean's curiosity has endangered the lives of every single character in the nativity, except for the baby Jesus. Thank goodness he's not been born yet, otherwise he, too, might be decimated. Last night I find Sean hanging one of the wise men by the neck through the back window of the stable - I'm sure in his mind, the wise man was just looking in the window, but from my perspective, it was cruel and unusual punishment for that king. Then after getting in trouble for taking Audrey's toy away from her, I tell Sean he could go find another toy to play with. I tell him that he could go play with his truck or his plane, but that he can not take Audrey's toys away from her. I return to making supper in the kitchen until I hear Sean yelling something from the living room. As I round the corner, I see Sean mowing down each of the nativity characters, one by one, with his plane. Though the characters are as tall as the plane itself, they all meet the same fate. Curiosity killed it.