Finding Order January 21, 2016


A few days ago at bathtime, Kate came up to me and demanded that I take off her trousers and tights, which I did. I was about to take off her onesie too, but she grabbed the clothes I had just removed and ran into the other room. It took me a second to realize what she was doing, but her direction made it clear that she was going to put her clothes into the dirty laundry hampers. Once she had done that, she came right back and asked me to take off her onesie, which she also delivered to the hamper right away. Even though she still doesn’t talk much, Kate definitely has strong ideas about the structure of her world.

I’ve been sick for the past few days. Yesterday, I got Kate up from her afternoon nap while Jenny was out picking up Elena and Roman from school. While waiting for them, we found ourselves playing an impromptu game. Kate positioned herself atop a blanket that was folded on the floor next to the bed, and I counted “one-two-three-BOOM!”, after which she dropped herself down to a seated position. After we did this several times, she took it one step further by lying all the way down on her back. Then she added another twist to the game, going down before I had the chance to get to “three.”

It reminded me of how early we develop a sense for narrative structure and need for dramatic tension—an initial idea is followed by rising action and excitement, with each new variation on the theme seeming like an awesome improvement, then inevitably starts to lose its novelty despite attempts to introduce fresh wrinkles. As fun as moments like Kate’s spontaneous game with me are, the flip side of the coin is the common lament of parents everywhere that kids only play with new toys for five minutes before going back to complaining about being bored. But it’s just the same for adults: I get excited about new ideas all the time, but often lose interest before even starting to work on them, and that’s why I don’t podcast. There are one or two ideas that won’t let me go even though I haven’t put in the effort that they deserve. That probably means something.

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