Have you ever disagreed with someone and it seems as though all logic fails to convince them the errors of their ways? Unbelievably, I am not writing about a political issue even if the logic may be the same. As we deal with A’s stomach and her growing phobias, there are times we have to take a step back from our position of frustrated parents. I am sure I have frustrated many friends and teachers through the years when I have failed to grasp their reasoning, but I wonder if I am as untouched by the logic of the learned as my daughter has shown herself to be recently.
Dealing with an 8 year old who cannot eat in a restaurant because there is a fly is annoying. Having her reduced to huddling against me for safety from the fly or crying out in fear would be somewhat comical to watch from afar. We tried everything we could think of as we pointed out how big she was compared to the fly, how the horse she had just ridden was able to shake them off, and finally how little of her food the one fly was likely to eat. It did not matter as all of these arguments are adult logic. The dinner was a wash for her.
Then we went home and a fly followed us into the house. As A screamed not wanting to go to the bathroom where the fly went, we thought we would go insane. I promised to squash it if it came after her. I reminded her of the books about “Buzz” the fly. Still, teeth brushing had to happen at another sink, away from where she saw the fly.
It was just a fly!
At some point, we came to realize we were arguing the wrong way. We were using logic as an adult might to solve a problem. Her problem is deeper and more pervasive. We were proposing a gentle salve on an emotional wound deeper than we know. She cannot stop picking her hands, and suddenly she cannot eat hot dogs with ketchup on the bun. Those are just two of the many recent changes. Why? Who knows, but the phobia and sudden intense dislikes are difficult to resolve. I wish I knew what those emotions meant to her. It is like an emotional logic I just do not understand, and she does not have the vocabulary to express it.
What does one do when one’s own logic fails to sooth the results of a kid’s thought process?
“Dear incomprehension, it’s thanks to you I’ll be myself, in the end.” – Samuel Beckett in The Unnamable