Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Three Stooges Gene effect

Cooper has a highly developed appreciation for all things slapstick. Bob noted about a year ago, maybe longer, that Cooper bust out laughing while they were watching some show on Noggin or Nickelodeon in which someone fell down. Since then he has consistently found people falling down, being chased, knocked down, slapped, kicked in the behind, poked in the eye, having things fall on top of them, you name it, extremely funny. Seriously, this is a guy thing, right?

The problem here is that right now his little 2 year old brain doesn't quite get the difference between reality and pretend on TV or in the movies. Thus we have encountered a small problem with him imitating some of the things he has seen in some of the movies he has been watching. Lovely, benign movies like Madagascar for instance.

See, there are these penguins. The penguins are hilarious. The lead penguin does a great William Shatner impression. But the penguins are bit, physical. With each other, with other characters. There is one scene where they have hijacked a ship, and they have tied up and gagged the captain. The captain is trying to say something, and head penguin says to another penguin "Shut him up" and the other penguin slaps the captain across the face.

Fast forward to yesterday morning. Bob was keeping Cooper entertained, and for some reason was pretending to cry. Cooper walked up to him, said "Shut up" and slapped him. I was all "Ohhhhhhhh noooooooooooooo" and immediately realized what he had just done. As clear as could be in my minds eye I saw that scene with the penguins. And then I realized what he was doing at school. The day before I was told he had, totally out of character, slapped one of his friends. For no apparent reason. It all began making sense.

I told his teacher what happened when I dropped him off at school. She thought it was hilarious. And it is, as long as it isn't your child slapping other kids or his parents.

So that movie is officially out of rotation for awhile, until we get to a point where cognitively I know he will understand the difference between what is on TV and what is okay in real life. We talked about it, but I still think delivering mixed messages is probably not a good idea. This is why I am not in favor of spanking. There are other reasons, but mostly it is about how hard it is to justify hitting my child as a disciplinary measure, yet teach him it is not okay for him to hit us or others. That distinction is really hard to get at this age, and quite frankly it is a bit hypocritical if you ask me. So we don't spank. There is still discipline, but not spanking.

What will he do next...that is the question.


Audubon Ron said...

Hey, I’m with you. Slap stick sent parenting back 1000 years.

My parents thought that it was funny and my mom and my aunts use to pop us around for grin-grins. It’s humiliating. My little sister started that same thing with her children and I jumped in with both feet and gave advice whether she wanted it or not. No slapping or jerking kids in public, remember, you’re smarter than they are.

In a restaurant a friend of mine met me for lunch with my niece and her daughter. In the middle of lunch my friends little girl loads up her straw with coke and turns to her mother and blasts her in the face with it and laughed – to show off to my niece. I lost it. I got up, grabbed the little girl by the arm and dang near dragged her on her heals outside in the parking lot and let her have it with words. (The three second, I’m going to kill you for doing that drill). Then I said, “You go back in there after washing your face in the restroom, she was crying, I’ll wait, and then apologize to your mother.” She did. I could have just reached across the table and knocked her on her little fanny. Not my kid I realize, but mom seemed it was actually a good thing.

Smacking in the face makes kids head shy. I can’t remember the last time I got smacked in the face but that is a sure way of collecting a knuckle sandwich from me.

Spanking my Little Woman around the room on her fanny doesn't count - especially if we're laughing. it a cute little thing we do together, but never in front of the dog or cats or ducks. :)

Chip said...

I never thought the Stooges were funny. Bug Bunny and the vintage Looney Tunes - BAH-RILLIANT! However, I do not recall attempting to whang anyone over the noggin with an anvil or tying a double barrel shotgun in a knot.

However, the idea of reality for a 2 yr old is plastic at best. Viscous and fluid is probably better. The repercussions of smacking some one are usually quite different in real life than in any animated flick. If Coop saw his Dad over-react (get sad, scared, cry etc etc) to the slap I'm betting the little man'd fall apart trying to make Daddy feel better and in his lil'spiffy mind feel badly. He's beginning to realize he can affect the world outside of himself and not just have it affect him. The world, however, is not different from him. None of us really exist as individuals separate from him (Object permanence, psych 101, Mommy can't be seen = Mommy no longer exists = AAAAAAAAGH!). Same thing with smack = sad in Mommy/Daddy whom are EVERYTHING in my world.

On the other hand, correctly channeled, you can build the next Chevy Chase (SNL Chevy, not post-SNL... well, maybe Fletch Chevy, but not Vacation Chevy).

Oz said...

Yeah, there is a boy/slapstick thing. Axel thinks falling down and hitting are hilarious, and he's never even seen Madagascar so, unfortunately, I can't blame the penguins.

MidLifeMama said...

We are way past the object permanence stage. He totally gets we exist even if he cannot see us. He has begun to pretend A LOT which is normal for this age. He even practices crying, laughing and falling down in the mirror. He may well be the Chevy Chase of his generation and as long as that means he can take care of his parents in their dotage, I can get behind that.

witchypoo said...

I think a lot of those movies were made to appeal primarily to the parents, so they would be able to bear taking the kids to the movie.
The dads always get a kick out of slapstick.