I guess I shouldn’t really be surprised by the things that Madison does at this point. In terms of her development, it more or less went like this: she couldn’t do anything, then she could crawl, then she could walk, then she started talking and never stopped. There were other firsts and highlights along the way to be sure, but I guess now that she’s a “big girl” (as she calls herself), those kinds of developmental feats are less obvious. The other night she was reading me words out of a book. Well, I don’t know if she was really reading them, but either she can read or she’s got an impressive memory. Both are great.
Mad asked Lynnette for help chopstickinal positioning last night at Kuru and Lynnette set her up with the proper hand placement. It was pointless, though, because Madison lost the form almost immediately after Lynnette let her hands go. I guess Madison decided enough was enough because when Lynnette tried to correct them, Madison pulled her hand away and made a grunting/whining noise. Mad was hell-bent on doing it herself.
That kind of willful obstinance is a Pascua trait. Lynnette is a very process-oriented woman and she prefers to handle things – whatever they may be – in her own way. This isn’t to say that Lynnette never listens to me (I would say that Lynnette listens to my instruction roughly 8%-11% of the time), only that she’s hard wired to try things her way until Zeus himself comes down from Olympus and begs her to stop. She’s a very proud woman who has been right about most things in her life for the entire 21 years she’s been on the planet. Sometimes I feel it is a legitimate shock to her when she is wrong.
I remember one Christmas Lynnette and I were helping her father set up their Christmas tree. The tree had one of those weird tops where it didn’t stick straight out, but rather bent to resemble a post route in a football passing play diagram. “You should probably cut the branch right there,” I said, pointing to the angle. Lynnette’s dad was hell-bent on putting the treetop ornament on without having to cut anything. After several attempts, Lynnette said “Just cut it, dad!” Lynnette’s dad made several more attempts. Finally, he cut it and placed the ornament on the tree. Then he said “You see?” and walked away. My eyes widened. Epiphany achieved. I looked at Lynnette. She already knew what I was going to say. “That’s where you get that from!” I said. So last night, when Madison growled/grunted at Lynnette, I smiled.
Madison loves to shot things like “I beat you, dad!” when she gets off the escalator first, and “You were wrong, mom and me were right!” even if I’m right and she’s wrong. I hope that this is a phase, but in our other test subject hasn’t grown out of it yet, so I don’t know.
While I am also a process-oriented person, what is more important to me when I am trying to accomplish something difficult or tedious is that everyone just leaves me the hell alone. I want to be by myself. I want my shit to be spread out over three desks, and I just want silence and isolation.
Madison is the same way. While she enjoys our company, there are certain activities – trying new things, playing particular games – that she prefers to do without our help or interference. It’s not even that she doesn’t want us to tell her how to do something, she just wants to do it for her. It’s like our interaction would somehow ruin what she’s trying to do.
When I tried to tell her that using her chopsticks would be easier if she kept them at an equal length parallel to each other, she shouted “Don’t talk to me, dad!” then immediately returned her chopsticks to an equal length parallel to each other. She knows when she needs to concentrate. Whenever I see her caught up in moments like these, I see the same bend in her brow that appears on my forehead when I am trying to figure something out.
Madison likes toys and candy and dresses, but it seems to me – and I think Lynnette would agree – that the thing which brings Madison the most pleasure is a sense of accomplishment. I hope that lasts forever. When her shaky hands finally held managed to control the chopsticks long enough for her to shovel some tobiko onto them, she moved her hand slowly towards her mouth. Her eyes went crossed as she followed the path of orange until it disappeared under her nose. When she took that bite, she smiled. I am sure it tasted wonderful, just as I am sure that she was mostly happy because she managed to do it at all.