Tuesday, October 17, 2006

love hate?

Lately, David has been mean to Grandpa-Great (dad's dad). He pointedly does not give his great-grandfather hugs, tells him they are not friends or that he doesn't like him. Yesterday, I sternly rebuked him for this behavior so he ran to Grandpa-Great and hugged his knees. Grandpa picked him up, gave him a kiss and they were best buds. Granny Great asked me where he learned this "you are not my friend" stuff. Well, from some other kids he has played with, I guess. Jaime and I were discussing it last night. We don't think he means it or understands it. He has seen the behavior go unchecked in others, he assumes it is appropriate, and imitates it. As soon as I point out that it is inappropriate, he is happy to drop it.

This emotional disingenuousness extends to other places--such as crying. He has this fake cry he does when he is peeved that he is not getting his way. He curls his mouth down, squints, and moans. The fake is pretty easy to detect--it comes from nowhere without any build up, is absent of tears, and can disappear just as quickly--"Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa--hey, a bug!" The frequency of this fake crying has increased since he has observed the level of attention Simon gets for similar-sounding behavior.

Here is the problem--how much of his emotional signaling can I believe is tied to genuine emotion and how much of it is simply this parroting of other's behavior? Early Monday morning, he woke up crying (genuinely) and got out of bed and headed for our room. I headed him off at his bedroom door, herded him back to bed, laid down with him, and rubbed his back. He was snuggled right up against me. "Dad," he said.
"Yes, David"
"I love you."
So, am I touched by my son's expression of genuine love for me or do I assume that this is on par with telling his grandpa that they are not friends? (Actually, the answer to that one is pretty easy--I don't care. My boy told me that he loved me and I'm taking it, I don't care where it came from. I only wish I had recorded it to play back in 13 years.)

later, fans (genuine and otherwise)

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