2P Notes Smuggled out of a North Korean Brainwashing Camp
July 22, 2007
When Random Granddaughter was less than a year old, we shared a duplex with her Mommies and from time to time, took care of the little girl on their side of the duplex.
RG was not an especially happy infant. It’s pretty normal for babies to cry a lot and to poop their pants, and generally make a nuisance of themselves. There did not seem to be anything wrong with her physically, and there were times when she smiled and waved a rattle and looked adorable, but I remember spending a lot of time walking around with a crying baby wondering what was distressing her. It might have been “colic,” or “teething,” or maybe not quite being over the shock of leaving the womb and facing the tough reality of life.
I remember everyone saying from time to time, Won’t it be nice when she can talk and tell us what is bothering her?
I also remember saying, I doubt you will entirely like what she has to say when she can talk and tell you what is bothering her.
As RG has developed, food has been a controversial issue every step of the way. Everyone in our barely extended family is very conscious of nutrition and of the desirability of eating well.
My parents were “health food nuts.” As I grew up, I rebelled against their often nutty attitudes about food, and it’s taken me a long time to get over my childish rebellion and approach food in a sensible manner.
I think RG’s parents approach these issues in a more sensible way. They do discuss with her topics such as nutrition. They give her a lot of choices.
There are still issues. She still considers “table manners” and the need to say “Please” and “Thank you,” as peculiar examples of adult insanity. She is a grazer rather than a diner, and the whole concept of a “meal” still mystifies her.
If RG later remembers her toddler and preschool years, and writes a memoir, this portion of her development may be titled, “How I Survived My Years in a North Korean Brainwashing Camp.”
Yesterday, her Mommies told us about how they had a discussion with her a day or two earlier about meals vs. snacks, and the need to eat a meal now and then and how snacks did not provide a balanced diet.
RG looked at them and said, “You are making too many decisions for me. I am growing up. I am becoming an adult now. I should be making my own decisions now.”
I remind everyone that my granddaughter is three years old, not 15. Even though she does not get to watch television, she is inhaling the zeitgeist of “growing up too fast,” through her pores.
Last night at dinner, which was very good, Random Granddaughter began to get a sulky look on her face. Everyone noticed. Mommies asked her what was the matter? They asked Is your stomach upset? They said, It is important to be able to talk about your feelings. She stuck out her lip and continued to look sulky. It was almost like the “good old days,” when she was an infant.
Eventually, we got to dessert. It was a big deal. Mrs. Random had braved the fleas and picked the first crop of boysenberries. She had made a boysenberry shortcake. She was getting ready to whip some cream so she could put whipped cream on the boysenberry shortcake. RG said, “I know how to whip cream,” as she saw Grandma take out the beater.
Grandma put out a little stool. RG stood over the cream and turned the beater handle. Cream is a tough creature and it takes a lot of whipping to whip it into shape. RG was doing a good job, but everyone could see that she was getting weary from the battle. Mommy said, “It’s OK to say, ‘I would like someone else to take a turn at whipping the cream.’”
RG said, “I would like someone else to take a turn at whipping the cream.” Grandma finished whipping the cream.
Grandma served the boysenberry shortcake. Everyone, including Random Granddaughter, ate in quiet delight. Then Mommy reminisced to RG, “When you were one year old, at your birthday party, you became very upset because we put whipped cream on your berries. You tried to take all the whipped cream off because it was ruining your berries.”
RG was amused about how immature she was as a one-year-old, and how she had not appreciated whipped cream.
Grandpa’s fork slipped, and he knocked a piece of shortcake, with berries and whipped cream on it, to the floor. “I guess I better clean up the mess,” I said and got down from the table.
RG looked at me. “Yes, clean up the mess. Every bit of it,” she said. Even in the North Korean brainwashing camp, RG has progressed from being an ordinary prisoner to being a “trustee,” who gets to help keep the other prisoners in line.