My Grandparent’s house was a large, weird, rambling place. There were myriad ramshackle additions, rooms built within other rooms, a toilet installed at the end of a hallway. Not in a bathroom, there was no sink, no tub- just a toilet. There was the house itself and then there was also a woodshed, a barn, and what we called the “old kitchen”, connected to each other and resting on top of all that, was the Attic. This was your classic old house attic, filled with box upon box of god-knows what, but it was all fascinating. There were clothes and dishes and old magazines- things that I imagined had belonged to my mother, childhood books of my father’s. I was not allowed in the attic. Despite my best attempts at sneakery, I was almost always caught creaking around up there. And so, like all forbidden fruit, the attic became a fixation.
One dusty summer afternoon, while the adults were otherwise engaged, I successfully crept up the dirty, wooden stairs, avoiding detection and began my exploration. A good while had passed when I felt the need to pee. Going back downstairs and into the house proper was risky- I might not make it back up again, and there was still so much to poke through. The solution presented itself to me from one corner- a toilet. Of course. Of course. There was a toilet in the attic. Duh. A toilet is a toilet, right? That’s where you pee. In a toilet.
As soon as the pee stream hit the floor boards- floor boards I should just mention, that had been perfectly visible to me from the open seat, I realized my mistake. In a panic I fled down the stairs to the woodshed below and paced back and forth near the drip-dripping finale of my urine show. Anxiously I waited, darting in and out, until finally the heat of the day had dried up the evidence of my crime.
Remember how stupid you were as a kid?
If I had a quarter for every absurd, dimwitted, inexcusably dumb thing I did as a child, I’d have a solid twenty bucks. That’s a lot if you think about it. It seems that the decision making process for children under the age of ten goes something like this:
That middle part of the process, wherein the validity/ do-ablity/ consequence of the idea is considered, has not yet formed.
I remember once spotting a brand new bag of apples on the counter, and seized with the inexplicable desire to take a bite out of each one….I did just that. One bite out of every single apple in the bag and then threw them each away. After the last apple had plopped into the trash can, I stood looking down at them all, my masterpiece, and with a nauseous belly wondered why the hell I’d done such a thing, and how to hide it.
Inevitably, Kid Logic, as I like to call it, results in the dreaded, ‘getting in trouble’, as Kid Logic almost always causes kids to do things that irritate the be-jesus out of adults. The worst part of the ‘Logic’ for the kid, is that moment of sudden, fearful clarity, when the stupidity of the deed and inevitable bad reaction of the offended grown-up, settles with a thud into the quaking stomach of the offender.
Take for example, the brilliant plan myself, my friend, and her little brother devised to soap up a chalkboard and put it, with soap and lots of water, on the floor of her bathroom and take running starts from the hallway to slide across it. All was well, and awesome mind you, until the second we heard her mother’s tread on the stairs. Immediately we understood how dangerous/messy/rage-inducing our romp had been. Meekly we submitted to the yelling and hair-wringing that followed. We cleaned up our mess in silence. It’s not as if we were unaware that her mother was right downstairs. We hadn’t even attempted to be quiet. If someone had approached us first and asked, “Hey, do you think if you guys made a huge mess in the bathroom by soaping up that chalkboard over there and running and sliding on it, Mrs. Madore will get mad?”, we’d have answered in chorus, “Yes.” And yet….
It’s a mystery.
I’m somewhat dreading Luka’s emergence into the Kid Logic years. If he’s anything like his mother, it’s going to be interesting. I can only pray that his stupidity doesn’t get him hurt or too terribly embarrassed. For me, the logic led to frequent humiliation.
The creme de la creme, the grand-daddy of them all, the one that still makes me cringe, happened at our local swimming hole. There with me that day, was my best friend, my sister, my cousin, and my father… basically everyone that would either find exceptional humor in my acts of idiocy, or who would use it as a taunting, endless weapon against me.
We were having a typically joy filled summer day, swimming. Everything was right with the world. Without a care, a group of children and adults frolicked about and thought of nothing but the sun and the water.
Then a little girl pooped. In the pond.
I’ll digress here to address the elephant in the story- Why did I have such difficulty relieving myself properly, for heaven’s sake? I have no good answer for that.
So I had to poop. I knew that, of course, one didn’t poop in the water, that was obvious. Then the ‘Logic’ got me.
“Hey”, I thought, ” If you can pee in the water and no one knows, why can’t you poop too?”
Wait a minute! How had I never realized this before? So much time had been wasted, getting out of pools to run to the restroom, waiting until I arrived home from lakes and beaches. Senseless.
I can honestly, distinctly remember the way the certainty of this revelation washed over me. Even still, I separated myself from the rest of the group. I mean, I was pooping and all.. Over near the cattails, the ‘deed’ was done. There. How simple. Those other blockheads hadn’t yet figured out my trick, they’d still be holding it, waiting till they got home. Ha! Losers.
I made an elegant, flippy little turn before kicking back to join the others. I spun and there, not three inches from my nose was the ‘evidence’. Floating evilly, and mocking me.
What an idiot! What was I thinking? Instantly I remembered how pee is liquid and therefore dissipates into the water. Poop didn’t do that! I knew that.
Fifteen feet away splashed my sister and cousin, my greatest tormenters. I could not let them know of this. I would never know the end of it if I did. Wildly, I pinwheeled my arms at the floater, breaking it into tiny bits. Then, whoosh, whoosh, whoosh, I pushed great waves towards the weeds, besprinkling it.
” What the heck are you doing?”
” Huh, what?! Nothing, what? Just swimming.”
“Why are you flailing all around?”
” Huh? I wasn’t flailing?
” Yes you were. You were just flapping all around like a lunatic.”
” I’m just….practicing….something.”
” God, you’re such a spazz.”
As I grew, the incidences of Kid Logic diminished, although, sadly, I could share a few “Adult Logic” tales as well.
It’s my little boy’s turn now. Let’s see what he’s got.