Monday, May 12, 2008

society rules

We have had to explain some really basic stuff to David this weekend: Don't knock on people's doors at 7:30 in the morning. Don't go outside without pants on (admittedly not a universal rule in our neighborhood). Don't go in other people's houses when they are not home. His innocent ignorance of these common concepts is both charming and disturbing.

He is entering a whole new world of socialization and freedom. He has finally hit it off with Cody, the four-year-old whose family moved in next door last year. Cody comes over and hangs out in our basement, David goes over to Cody's, and they generally want to spend every spare moment together--which is actually not a lot of time since they are four and by no means masters of their own schedules. David has also become good friends with another neighbor, Christopher, who is not quite three, but whose language and social skills finally allow for socializing. Christopher also has Transformers and the biggest Lightening McQueen in the neighborhood, which makes up for any linguistic or social shortcomings.

So now he has good friends near by and he was the freedom to play with them as much as possible. Be we all know that freedom isn't free. Well we know that. David is learning. And the lessons, they are hard.

The lessons began around 7:30 Saturday morning. In bed, half asleep, I was vaguely aware of David being up and around but didn't think much of it. He often gets up and fixes himself breakfast before we get up. Was that the front door? Nah, couldn't be. A bit later David pads into our room in his t-shirt and pull-up. He asks if one of us would go knock on Cody's door because he tried and no one answered. Though freaking-out inwardly, his mother and I try to remain calm as we explain that he cannot leave the house with neither permission nor pants.

The day then becomes a series of lessons and restrictions. The privilege of playing in a friend's house is revoked because he pitched a fit when it was time to come home. The privilege of being able to go to the park revoked because he went to the "creek" behind the park against explicit orders. The privilege to play outside altogether revoked because he then went in another friend's house without permission (which he would not have gotten). He spent the last hour before dinner sitting on the couch looking at books (more or less). For awhile I thought I would have to lock him in a box to keep him from going where he shouldn't go.

This culminated on Sunday with actual breaking-and-entering and burglary. I needed to put Simon down for a nap, leaving David alone in the front yard after reviewing the rules. I fell asleep myself, woke up an hour later, and went out to search for David. He came walking down the sidewalk I and I verified that he was staying outside. He said he had just gone in Christopher's for a minute to get some toys. Fine, just as long as he is playing outside. Then he asked if I wanted to play with him at Christopher's. I said no thank you, that he should play with Christopher himself.

Then he explained that Christopher was not home. Some confused Q&A followed and I gathered that, since no one was home at Christopher's, he simply opened the front door, gathered whatever toys he wanted to play with, and brought them outside. During our conversation, he mentioned that Cody also was not home. I noted that someone must be home because Cody's front door was standing open. Perhaps they were upstairs and didn't hear David knock. I explained that he can't get people's toys out of there house when they aren't home. Then, he and I kicked his new soccer ball around for awhile. Eventually, Cody's family's van drove into the parking lot and the entire family emerged. As Cody's father approached the front door, he was obviously perplexed that it was open. More Q&A with David from which I gather that HE opened it searching for Cody. More gentle explaining.

If no one was home at both Cody's and Christopher's home, how is they were both unlocked so David could get in? Well the doors around here are heavy and tight, so it takes extra care to make sure they are closed all the way and latched. It is possible that the front door of both homes was not latched, allowing a persistent four-year-old to push it open. He is used to struggling with our door (from both sides, apparently).

I am confident that David will learn all the new rules and responsibilities that come along with his new social abilities. I just hope he does acquire a rap sheet in the process.

Later, pants fans.

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