Tuesday, July 1, 2008

How to Divert Your Foe

Since the dawn of time, mankind has used exclamatory pointing as a way to divert an adversary’s attention. Phrases like, “Look over there!” and “What is THAT?” are commonly used in conjunction with a person’s extended index finger. I recently saw this phenomenon exhibited by my son. He has had no prior training to prepare him for this exercise, nor has he found himself on the receiving end of such conduct; therefore, I can only assume that this mechanism is built-in and is part of our inherent human composition.

Nana’s and Granddad’s house affords too many pleasures to bother with mealtimes, so neither of the children eat well when we visit for the day. Our latest visit to her house was no exception. At dinner, my son was seated on Nana’s lap while Nana desperately tried to get the child to eat something that resembled an actual meal. He wriggled; he squirmed. He was in constant motion in his attempt to dislodge himself from her lap. To get down from the table and be able to wreak general havoc and mayhem by riding his too-small bicycle around in never ending circles was his only aim. This was no time for eating! It was a time for claiming the Guinness Book of World Records’ title for the highest number of orbits made around a six-foot long table on a four-wheeled non-motored vehicle.

The little guy continued on with his struggle for freedom by trying to slide from Nana’s clutches like a wet, slippery egg. Suddenly, the child stalled his escape efforts slightly, pointed to a blue paper butterfly on the wall-lamp, and said, “Look at the butterfly!” Without loosening her grip, Nana agreed with his observation. He writhed a little more and descried with further emphasis, “It’s a butterfly!” Again indicating the direction in which he wished her to look.

A rush of realization swept over my mother’s features, and she began to quake with laughter: the toddler was not merely communicating what was in his line of sight- he was trying to trick her into shifting her focus from him and place it elsewhere so that he could make a break for it. At that point, my son’s attempts at escape were almost achieved; not because of his diversion tactic, but because Nana’s teary-eyed chortle was causing her to lose her grip on the struggling boy. The next time someone tries to make me eat fried monkey’s eyeballs, I’m going to take the cue from my son, point over their shoulder and exclaim, “Look at the flying buffalo!” and hide those eyeballs in my napkin where they can’t stare at me anymore.

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