Sunday, June 2, 2013

Train Wreck of Thought

After five years of marriage, my husband is quite used to my blurting out a statement that seems to have no relation to the conversation we were just having. A typical train of thought for me goes something like this: My husband says to me, “Tonight’s lasagna was delicious.” I recall that my mom often made lasagna from that same recipe for church potluck dinners. Every summer, our church would host a food booth at the local Independence Day Celebration. One year, the entertainment included a troupe of belly dancers, one of whom had been my high school math teacher. Over the course of the three years I had her, she divorced and reverted to her maiden name then married again, so she had a different last name each year I was in her class. Two of those names were somewhat unusual and the third was very simple. This thought caused me to blurt out, “Sweetheart, if you die before me and I remarry, it will be to someone with a very common last name.”

If you cut out the thought process in between and simply juxtapose his comment about the lasagna and my comment about him dying, it could be a rather alarming conversation. Fortunately, he knows me well enough to extrapolate the chain of events going on in my head. (Or at least to trust that there is one that does not include the administration of poison.)

Unfortunately, my son has apparently inherited my tendency for the non sequitur. And since he is only 3-1/2, he rarely explains the chain of thought which led him from Point A to Point B. Also since he is only 3-1/2, the leaps in logic within that chain often defy adult understanding – or at least prove an interesting challenge to recreate.

Here is a prime example of his thoughts with less than obvious connections: The other day, he asked me why Daddy and I don’t get married every day. After all, we kiss all the time. I explained that you only have to get married once, usually with a special ceremony and fancy clothes, but then you stay married and you don’t have to do it over and over. I showed him our wedding album and reminded him that the family photo at the top of our stairs was from our wedding day. He was very quiet and looked thoughtfully at all the photos for a few minutes, then asked, “Okay, but Mommy, why aren’t there dinosaurs anymore?”

Comments like that make me wonder what goes on in that funny little head of his. I imagine that the chain of thought went something like this: Mommy and Daddy got married before I was born. Mommy says that she used to be a little girl a long time before I was born. When she was a little girl, she liked to play with dolls, just like Tiny from Dinosaur Train does. I would like to play with Tiny from Dinosaur Train, except that there aren’t dinosaurs any more. “Hey, Mommy, why aren’t there dinosaurs anymore?” It’s actually quite reasonable logic.  

But sometimes I just can’t get into his head deep enough to understand the connections he’s making. Connections between comments like, “The water in our pool is really warm,” and “Once my toenail turned a funny color and fell off.” Or “Daddy bought me a shovel at Home Depot,” and “Germs get into your lungs if you don’t eat enough healthy food.” Or “When I grow up, I’ll be big like Daddy,” and “How many oranges fit in your shoes?”

Although when it comes to statements like that last one, I think it’s probably better not to try to figure it out. Some of the mysteries of life are better left as mysteries.

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