Friday, May 25, 2007

Sweet Meats

When my daughter was a baby we played a game. I would smell her head. Baby's heads smell like caramel - I don't know why, they just do, but it is wonderful. I mention this often, to the point where my son would tell complete strangers, "My sister tastes like caramel."

So I would hold my daughter in my lap and say, "I'm gonna eat your baby brains! Yum, yum, yum!" and gently gum her head.*

My son walked in during a session. His jaw dropped, his eyes were wide, and he yelled, "Daddy! Don't eat my sister! Save some for me!"

* Tales of parents eating children ancient and are clearly an expression of an archetypal behavior. Perhaps the most famous example (if you are a dork) is how Zeus and the other Greek gods were devoured by their father Chronos. There are many theories about the origins and meaning of this behavior. But if, as I theorize, most baby heads smell like caramel, it would explain a great deal.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Mother's Day Save

Father Goof frequently grouses about the price of his son's private school, but today it paid off. Someone had kindof forgotten to do something nice for Mother's Day for the long-suffering Mama Goof. (Father Goof has never claimed to be a good father, husband, or son - merely an adequate one.)

Thankfully my son, directed by his teachers, had created an array of mother-themed artwork, including the inevitable pasta-oriented jewelry and a heart-shaped card with embracing stick figures. Meant to show familial love, in fact the drawing looked like an angry zebra, drawn by someone who had a profound hatred of zebras. There was another set for Bubbe. Wearing the macaroni elbow necklaces gave the women in my life a weird Polynesian-Italian fusion vibe.

Obviously Father Goof was supposed to buy them some non-chewable jewelry, and he will pay a price for his failure to do so. But at least the mothers received some acknowledgement today, and their wrath will be muted. Now at least private school is starting to pay for itself. All the money I saved on jewelry can go towards tuition.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Geometry of Parenthood

Proposition 20 of Euclid's Book I reads:
In any triangle two sides taken together in any manner are greater than the remaining one.
My old textbook (which my wife has been hounding me to throw out) a footnote remarks that Proclus (another ancient geometer) reported that it was the habit of the Epicureans to ridicule this theorem because:
"Even an ass knows that. If fodder is placed at one angular point and the ass at another, the ass won't walk the two sides of the triangle but just the one side. Booyah."
Proclus would respond,
"Oh no you didn't! Mere perception of the truth is different from a scientific proof of it and a knowledge of the reason why it is true."
It was even more devastating in Greek.

I mention this because the assertion that even the ass knows to walk a straightline shows five year olds in an interesting light. Everyday I pick-up my son and carpool buddy and struggle with their inability to walk in a straight line. For example, when I drop carpool buddy off, rather than making a beeline from my car to his front door he takes an elliptical approach that occasionally takes him into neighbors' yards. So, are five year-olds dumber than asses? "What," Proclus would no doubt ask, "Does this say about the human capacity to reason, about logos?"

Or, are five-year olds brilliant? Just as Einstein shattered Newtonian physics showing that space curves, Euclidean geometry also withered before the assault of modernity. Lobchevsky (yes, the one from the Tom Lehrer song) argued that a line lying perpendicular across two parallel lines does not intersect them at exactly 90 degrees because space curves. So perhaps, when my charges are wandering in what to my, aged eyes are parabolic routes they are in fact simply perceiving the curves in space and navigating them.

Or they could just be a pair of dumbasses.