Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Ideas Boy, B.A.(B.Y.) and the Oedipal Complex
I remember that when Elena was about, let's say half a year old, she went through a phase of being romantically in love with Heather; Jasper, at four months is already starting to go through that in a major way. A few days ago he started screaming while I was holding him and when Heather came in the room and took him (without doing anything else) he started cooing. He wasn't hungry; he just felt like things would be better with his mama than his papa.
I don't know if there's some sort of gender or sexual difference involved (the nice thing about having only one of each is that you can chalk up all differences to innate gender differences . .. . and believe me, parents do when they are giving us "advice.") For the record, I'm pretty sure that Elena is "straight" (to the extent that a three year old can be) --- this first became obvious when we were in Italy and she was about 19 months old, in a way that was hilarious and deserves its own post some other time. But the only important thing for our purposes here is that Jasper has started wooing Heather much earlier than Elena did.
So, today, our housekeepers* were late in coming, so we were unable to cook dinner at home. We gave Elena the choice of where to go (from a limited selection) and she chose the California Pizza Kitchen. This made me happy because this is just about the most upscale sort of place we can go with the kids (actually we were recently in West Virginia and ate at a great restaurant. . . but that was a unique exception in many ways and would probably also merit its own blog entry or two; also, one of the things I loved about our trip to Italy with Elena was that we could eat pretty much anywhere with her and no one would look at us askance)...
Fortunately, our kids are pretty good when we go out to eat and everything was going swimmingly. Elena was eating her cheese pizza (which she's a pro at ordering but has only recently started eating --- for a while we were going around the Main Line collecting kids' pizzas to put in our fridge) and Jasper was kickin' it old school in his car seat. We were at a square table; the kids were facing one another as were Heather and I.
Jasper started to get a little fussy and so I took him out. Assuming he was sleepy, I held him in cradle position and started rocking him while he was eating. He was having none of it and started lifting up his head. This wasn't good enough, so he started lifting up his whole chest, which is no small feat for a little four month old. He had almost managed to sit himself up, so I decided I'd help him and turned him around so that he was sitting on my lap.
At that point, all tiredness left his eyes. He started staring at his mom, cooing and talking up a storm. And that's when it hit me:
There he was, in what was to his unsophisticated mind surely quite an upscale and intimate place . . . looking over (my) wine glass (but he was willing to ignore that fact) into Heather's beautiful amber eyes.
And me? Well, I was there, but he had maneuvered himself so that he couldn't see me. He had literally taken my place.
As soon as we got home, I went ahead and moved the hiding location of my symbolic phallus. I usually keep it somewhere in the entry-way closet in case I need to exercise my patriarchal authority. But I hid it in the attic, because I can lock that. . .
Hopefully Jasper won't start reading Lacan anytime soon.
*no one is allowed to judge us for having a housekeeper unless they have two or more children and they and their co-parent are both trying to hold down a full time job**...
**for the purposes of my moralism, I ask the reader to forget that one of those co-parents is currently on maternity leave, and the other is on a summer break that looks like it'll be extending into unemployment.