I’m not just talking about dangerous to your sense of cool or self-esteem. No, I’m discussing actual loss-of-life-and/or-limb dangerous.
Mostly because when you’re the stay-at-home parent of a household, you’re the one expected to do all the driving instruction for the spawn once they become old enough to endanger others behind the wheel.
Today, over at Charlotte Parent, I’ll be talking about whether or not I will survive teaching a third boy to drive. As usual, I’ll be blogging under our Stay-At-Home Dudes column name.
Come on over and join the conversation. I’d love to hear any stories you might have about the process. Or maybe some hints on how to stay sane this time around.
We know that we are real, but we can’t be absolutely certain anyone else is real.
Yes, dudes, I know this is the rankest form of sophomoric solipsism, but go with me here. Just for a minute, your honor. I promise I am going somewhere with this. *Allowed*
So, we know we exist because we are thinking and all. Since we don’t get access to the insides of anyone else’s heads, we can’t be certain everyone else isn’t some NPC (non-player character, essentially an automaton) wandering through to amuse us. We take it on faith that we are not a singular organism, the rest of the universe having formed around us. Other people also exist.
To us, that is self-evident. There’s no need for proof.
To the little dudes of the world, though, it might not be so blatantly, obviously true. In fact, I argue that they truly do believe only they are real and everyone else simply is there to amuse them or provide for them.
And it’s our job, as parents, to break them of this delusion. We do this by planting the seeds of empathy and then encouraging it to grow and spread and flower.
Empathy is the ability to feel the pain of others in a way similar to the way you feel your own pain. As an example, take my knee.
I’ve had four knee surgeries in my lifetime. I know what it’s like to hurt my knee, to feel the pop and the pain, the tear and the tears. Now, whenever I see someone hurt their knee during a football game or similar, I flinch, as a sick feeling drops through my gut and my knee begins to ache. All because something bad happened to someone I don’t even know.
That is empathy. Little dudes and dudettes, though, are seriously lacking in this skill set. Which is why they think nothing of grabbing someone else’s toy. Or not sharing. Or whacking someone in the groin with their own cane when they were just sitting there on a park bench being nice and waiting for the burgers and dogs to come off the grill.**
The strange thing is that, as difficult as this sense can be to instill in young dudes, it can grow to be insanely strong in most people.
The other day I was reading an article in Wired Magazine that was excerpted from a book called Love Sense by Dr. Sue Johnson. In it, she talked about some interesting experiments.
Most fascinating, perhaps, is research showing that just imagining or thinking that another person is in pain — especially a loved one — makes us respond as if we are going through the exact same experience. Neuroscientist Tania Singer and her colleagues at the University of Zurich found that when a woman received a small electric shock to the back of her hand, the woman beside her, who received no shock, reacted as though she had received it, too: the same pain circuit was activated and the identical area of the brain lit up in both women. We literally hurt for others.
How amazing is that? Someone else hurts and we feel it.
And, yet, as conclusive as that is, we still — no matter the age — we still will act in ways that hurt others and it won’t bother us.
About which we’ll speak more tomorrow.
Footnotes & Errata
*Which is, of course, a lie.
** Possibly a bit too specific to be able to tell anyone that wasn’t a personal anecdote. Also? That hurt. A lot.
The Shining is a very creepy book about ghosts and hauntings and family secrets and bloody hands and even bloodier axes from author Stephen King, back when he was good. It’s also the name of a very scary movie, starring Jack Nicholson and Olive Oyl.
Director Stanley Kubrik takes a creepy story and makes it even creepier.
The movie is about Jack Torrence, failed writer, and his wife and son. They move to the Overlook Hotel, up in the mountains for the winter to act as caretakers when the snows come and cut off all communication. While there, Jack goes slowly insane. Ghosts appear. And scary little girls make an appearance.
All of which means it’s just about ripe to make into a romantic comedy.
Which some youtube user went out and did. You dudes enjoy this little bit of oddly repurposed trailer. Heck of a way to start your weekend.