On Sunday at the neighborhood hot dog shack, Scout got a little ketchup on my jeans.
“Scout! Rule number one: Don’t spill ketchup on Dad!”
“No, Dad, that’s actually rule number two.”
“What’s rule number one?”
The steel trap recalled an incident two years ago at another restaurant and said with a grin, “Rule number one is, don’t spill your milk on Dad.”
Masquerading as a cute story about a kid who remembers her dad's rules but doesn't take them too seriously, what this really is is a depressing reminder of how fully programmed I am—all of us adults are.
When Scout spilled milk in my lap two years ago, I bellowed at her, "Rule number one! Don't spill milk on Dad!" Two years, later, ketchup: same exact half-serious rant.
This is what makes communicating with adults so difficult. For all our sanctimonious self-talk about being open-minded—I like it when we say, "you know, I try to be open-minded"—we're as grooved as a long-play record, and in order for some new information to get in, it either has to fit into those spiraled valleys, or it needs to shock the daylights out of us and scratch across the ridges.
Required for communication with adults: Sensitive hands, or big cajones.