Monday, January 10, 2011


A bonk on the knee by a fist tightly clenched. With all the force of a judge's gavel, banging its verdict with a small hollow echo. A pinch of skin between thumb and forefinger, enough ouch to enrage the most hearty of hearts. Children can endure unaccountable hours of boredom, if required to by edicts on high from parents' tight lips, but the flesh of one's flesh, squeezed like a zit about ready to pop? Cries like a coon trapped in iron cages may ensue. Mewls, almost. More than tit-for-tat, the fight that will follow. It's everything in us, our spite, even hate, unleashed in pure form. (No additives needed, not at that age.) Nothing filtered, withheld. An easy access to instincts us adults smother, then bury. (Except in dreams, where pure sex and raw violence torment us sweetly.)

This ease of approach; this fearless unleash of all that is fluid and direct might almost be sacred, if its agents weren't kids. Those tiny love munchkins! Those smiling cherubs. Those angelic small masks that we pose for so long to get photos that erase all signs of the truth -- that, beneath those great grins, the most forceful of smiles, natural and honest, all our old impulses, ancient and ready to rise, (should they be summoned) still exist. Each child knows what we dampen, and wipe clean away upon waking like green slinking snot. All the red rage. They bring it forth, the kids do, with a spit bubble's gross ease.

We've all lost what they enter into with nonchalant fuss. Biting, pinching, kicking, taunting: What we express through lovemaking, 'safe' and quite coy, a 'roleplay', we call it, trite and all plastic, harmless and staged with awkward poses and angles, they dive into with relish, expectant and proud. In waking life, should we try such attempts at clumsy violence against our neighbour -- that prick -- the police would be called, with forms to be filled out. (In triplicate!)

Kids, though. Kids can go at it with the strange grace of a grass blade being pulled from the soil. (Some tiny life has been severed, but no matter! There's more fields of this stuff.) To give in to those dark impulses we big-folk stash away (like coins in a pig to extract, later, when the collection has grown with the weight of our postponed deposits), why, that's what these tiny blessings of ours, these young creatures of flesh can call up, with no second thoughts of remorse. Blind, black rage, aimed at that other, one who shares their own blood, their same smile and forehead. Their breakfast, their toys, even. The ultimate defense, this primal mad swing: You may want what is mine, but it's mine, so retreat. A sensible, some might say moral reaction. Only later, we learn, to divide our sweet pleasures with those we love most: I'll give you this, and thus expect more of that; you grant me those, and I'll allow you all these. A bartering of small treasures, that our ego allows in the name of 'civility'. (What we must lose to exist, in this society of family and friends!)

What is taught to the young'uns, so they, too, might become the empty shells of us adults, who monitor emotions and rescind our base impulses! Not entirely useless, this shell with no stuffing. Think of a seashell on white sand, for example. You can fill it with with junk, knickknacks and such, hear the ocean at all times, its wind mournful and empty, evoking empty beaches at sunset, its tide sneaking out. (That this wind that we hear is an illusion, a crustacean's odd gift, a sea lacking water or presence, is a reality best left unexamined this time.)


To be full like those children, full of rage and entitlement. Willing to defend a small truck or blond doll with the wrath of a god newly spurned. Almost noble, that impulse. One we must forfeit for life in a world of kickbacks and compromise. That often, if not always, a child's selfish rage is replaced by a smile and a laugh that so readily erupts like a firecracker ablaze with its own frenzied light is small proof that our best selves will ignite after all. Given space, time, and just enough prodding, and the gentlest of sparks.