Thursday, January 10, 2008

I Like Pie

I look good...
Originally uploaded by ktoast
“I like pie,” informs Jaime, sitting with a thump at the salon table.

This is in response to the question, “Would you like to do your math first or would you prefer to start with the history?” and is absolutely appropo of nothing. It is, however, her standard response to questions she doesn't care to answer.

“Jaime, would you like to do the laundry or help with scrubbing the deck?” “I like pie.”

“Jaime, have you grasped the concept that the companionway is not a laundry basket yet?” “I like pie.”

I don't like pie. In fact, while I used to have a moderate fondness for berry pies and even the occasional apple or peach, I now positively loathe pie. Every time I hear the word pie, I want to pick something up and throw it against the nearest wall with roughly the force of a tactical nuclear device.

In fact, the word pie has for me now all the meaning of any word which you say over and over and over and over again until the word loses all sense and goes to some void in your brain where you start to question the very nature of personhood, your existence as a thinking being, and the place of your consciousness in a big, cold universe.

Conceptually, I have to admit that Jaime's strategy for avoiding unpleasant topics is better than many. It has the singular property of providing a completely neutral response. Surely, you can't object to the assertion of a fondness for baked pastry with sweetened filling. Short and pleasant, calm and rational. You could even say that she is taking a more peaceful, reductionist position, lowering the possibility for conflict by introducing a new, more positive topic into the conversation.

However, it took very little time before the phrase “I like pie” came to represent for me all that is dysfunctional in our family. Our family is dysfunctional, by the way. I am convinced that all families are inherently screwed up by the very nature of their implausibility. Ours is not really any worse than the average complete cluster . This is not a naïve assumption. I am surrounded every day with families that are equally torked like pretzels around the axles of their inherited relationships. They all seem to be somehow distorted by the fact that you can't pick the members of your family.

And therein likes the rub. Jaime and I are, quite unfortunately, very much alike. This ensures that nothing on earth can ever produce a calm, happy relationship between us as long as she is in my boat, under my authority, and bigger than me. When I say she is stubborn, holier than thou, and doesn't know when to stop, I say that in clear recognition that these words damn me as a stubborn, holier than thou witch myself. Our sameness makes for an uneasy, often loud and unpleasant, family life.

I can not see that homeschooling has helped. The day she surpassed five feet was probably more important. As soon as I was unable to physically intimate her by towering, glaring, and looking really menacing was probably a more significant milestone. Ever since, we've had to learn new strategies.

Hence, the pie. The endless, repetitive pie. Like Mo in a bad mood, pie hits me in the face whenever Jaime does not want to say what she knows I do not want to hear. So kudos to her, really, because if she said that thing I do not want to hear I would have to get loud and mean and unpleasant. Whereas in the face of pie, I have to lick my lips, consider my options, and offer coffee and donuts instead.

We're growing up.
Little Imps and Posters
Little Imps and Posters
Originally uploaded by ktoast

1 comment:

Meg_L said...

it sound like my daughter. She offers hugs....

How do you turn that down?