Boss #2 has a problem. She’s addicted to standing.
She’s youngest of my twin girls, approaching 8 months of age. A couple of weeks ago she learned how to pull herself up and stand. She hasn’t quite mastered sitting back down, and she usually just topples over. Or she’ll stand there and cry until someone comes to the rescue.
I mean, you have to learn to stand before you can walk, and so on. The problem is that she’s utterly addicted to standing. She stands every chance she gets. As soon as you put her down, she’s assuming a standing position. As soon as she gets up in the morning, she’s standing in the crib. And in the middle of the night, if she wakes up because of a noise or a bad dream, she’s immediately standing, even before her eyes are completely open.
I sometimes find her standing in the crib, staring into the mirror, crying, her slap of hair sticking up as if she’s been electrified, part of her wanting to let go and go back to sleep, the other part determined to stand no matter what. Just for the audacious sake of it.
When a tree falls in the forest and no one is there, it’s a philosophical issue as to whether it makes a sound. But when a baby topples like a petrified oak, foam mattress or not, she makes a sound that would make the deadest of philosophers beg for earplugs. And you’d think she’d learn.
I imagine if I tried to make her stand, she’d be a lot less interested in it. As long as I keep rescuing her once in a while, and the other times letting her topple (safely on a foam mattress), it will seem like the coolest possible thing she could ever be doing. And any day now Boss #1 (the other twin) will decide she wants in on the action.
I’m not convinced that any of this standing business is in my best interest. After all, the more mobile they become, the more they’ll reach for the things I’m not ready for them to have. The stapler. My coffee cup. Their freedom.
I was pondering what this standing addiction portends about her character, and it got me remembering something from my own high school days.
I was a bit of a pain in the butt in high school. I was a nice kid, and smart, in mostly the advanced classes, but I had absolutely no inclination to respect authority.
I didn’t care for school assemblies, and the part where we all stood up for the star spangled banner song rubbed me the wrong way. I always made a distinction between loving my country (which I do) and being militaristically patriotic (which has always scared me).
But mostly I was just a pain in the butt.
So I asked to be pardoned from the assemblies, to go instead to the lunch room and do homework.
So, in the assembly, when everyone else stood up for the rocket’s red glare, I sat, infuriating the Assistant Principal (whose nickname was Sarge) and earning me a ticket to the Principal’s office (not my first by a long shot).
The Principal did not have Sarge’s fury, and I successfully argued my case. I was allowed to skip the next assembly and instead go to the lunch room and read.
So there I was, sitting alone at the table, reading a book, minding my own business, and suddenly a small horde of punks and goths come through the lunchroom door, sheepdogged by Sarge, who was nearly purple-faced.
They were ushered into seats and I learned soon about their crime. Inspired by my act of rebellion in the previous assembly, this time they’d all stayed in their seats during the bombs bursting in air. And their punishment was a time out in the lunchroom. No talking. No reading. No looking at anyone funny.
I continued reading. I mean, that was the deal. But Sarge ordered me to stop reading. Apparently I was now one of the accused. I tried to explain that I was an exception, but he was in no frame of mind to deal with that sort of subtlety.
So, I sat there a while, looking around at the punks, their primary-colored mohawks reaching for the fluorescent bulbs like sun-thirsty weeds, and the goths, their deflated expressions verging on annoyed. And Sarge, face still purplish, seething with the rage of someone who is confronted with the knowledge that whatever they may have sacrificed for our star-spangled banner, teenagers are born to push boundaries for the audacious sake of it.
So, being a teenager, my next move was to stand up. I stood there, next to the table. Sarge’s face looked like it was going to erupt. So I started whistling.
That earned me another trip to the Principal’s office. And detention. For a while.
Oh, and the song I whistled. I should have chosen something political, but I just whistled the first thing that came into my head that already included some whistling. It’s the song they’re all singing at the end of Life of Brian when they’re being crucified.