It's disconcerting when your 9 year old son asks if there are any jails in town that he could tour.
My first thought, naturally enough, was that my son was planning a life of crime and wanted to see where he'd be spending 5-8 years of his life.
But then I took comfort in the realization that my son is a dear darling boy who absolutely can not think past this moment.
He is the boy who tried to pick up fire, the boy who tried to put the knife in the toaster, the boy who ate his entire chocolate Advent calender in one sitting, never contemplating for a second what would happen next.
The look of surprise and hurt after the touching fire thing was heart breaking.
He was utterly disconsolate on December 2nd when he found he had no more candy and would have to watch his sister eat her stale misshapen chocolate stockings, stars, and bells, one each morning, for 24 days, in front of his very eyes.
He was completely dumbfounded not not just a little pissed off when his sister screamed and smacked the
knife out of his hand that time with the toaster.
Solomon bellowing loudly, "Mom! Lily HIT me!"
Lily, hysterically shrieking, "OH my GOD!!!! Solomon tried to put a KNIFE in the TOASTER!!!!!"
Me hysterically shrieking louder, "What were you THINKING! Oh MY GOD!!"
He's a smart guy and
he knows how electricity works, he just didn't put the action and the potential outcome together into one event. He just cognitively doesn't have the skills to do that sort of thing. Not now anyway. We're working on it. Natural consequences are helpful. Think Advent chocolate.
In the spirit of keeping honest, please note the first hand discovery that fire is indeed hot happened about 4 years ago, the Advent calender lesson in gluttony and regret happened when the boy was 6 or 7, and the toaster incident took place at least 6 months ago.
Those are extreme examples of what still goes on daily here at home with my son.
Just yesterday I had to stop him from standing on a rickety bench, his arm outstretched, a pair of scissors in his hand, pointed down toward his head. His response to me, There is no problem here Mom. My constant reminder, Think. What could logically happen next. What IF...
Moment by moment, the family is on perpetual red alert, ready to pounce on him, knock him out of harms way, or shriek in terror, thereby getting his attention and distracting him from imminent doom.
It's clear that my son's interest in visiting a jail is just natural childhood curiosity which can be weird, but it's normal. My son appears to have this weird but normal childhood curiosity in abundance. This could either make him or break him.
His boundless curiosity could one day lead to his greatest joys and successes. If it doesn't kill him first.
My son is not planning a life of petty thievery or plotting the next big bank heist.
He's a nice boy who wants to be good and frankly, he just doesn't have the executive functioning skills to contemplate a life of crime. He's not a long range plan sort of fellow.
He's too busy here in the now.
He's like a Zen master, beginners mind, full of awe and wonder, living in the eternal now, teetering on the edge of understanding.
Meanwhile, the rest of us are teetering on the edge of our seats, fearful, worried, anticipating his next moment, standing by with band aids, a fire extinguisher, clutching the phone, 911 on speed dial.