The Absurd and Amazing Adventures of Cafe Girl: Lessons From A Three-year-old

December 22, 2006

Lessons From A Three-year-old

The Three-year-old has no problem wandering aimlessly around the animated zoo.

We are playing a computer game. Or rather, he is playing and I am watching, trying not to be a backseat computer game player and yell out directions from where I am.

The game is called Putput Saves The Zoo Animals. Putput, the cartoon car hero of the game, has been tasked with finding the lost baby animals and returning them to their parents. These six missing baby animals are all over the zoo, which is made up of three different wildlife environments. There's the desert, the jungle, and the arctic. Once all six animals are rescued, the zoo can have its grand opening, and Putput presumably becomes the hero who saves the day.

Which brings us back to the Three-year-old. He seems to have no problem with all of this. When faced with the choice of saving the baby tiger or going back to another screen, he chooses going back.

Meanwhile, I, the city-dwelling, multi-tasking, ten-things-on-my-to-do-list adult am having a coronary in the back. The baby tiger is right there! Why are we going backwards?

In fact, the Three-year-old has no problem going right back to where he started. The reason? There's a cartoon snack store where he can purchase cartoon cheese puffs. In fact, he likes these so much he keeps going back to that store. Even when the baby giraffe is within seconds of being rescued.

I'm the only one that seems to have any issues at all. Shouldn't journeys go forward? When faced with the choice of completing a task or having fun, shouldn't we always complete the task before we go for some fun? Why all the pointless singing and dancing?

But the Three-year-old doesn't really care about all this. He knows that the baby animals will eventually be found. There isn't really a time limit on this task. There's nothing set in stone that we have to go forward, backwards, or anywhere at all. For now, he'll just go where the party is. Or rather, where the cheese puffs are.

Perhaps that is why the Three-year-old is eternally happy. He seems to understand what is important. His rules for living are simple. Keep mommy and daddy close by. Get candy from Grandma. Make eyes at the new aunt from American who gives him undivided attention. Dragons must stay on the inside of the castle, ogres on the outside. Your castle may have a crocodile (presumably for the mote), but may not have a shark. We may shoot you, but you do not necessarily have to die when we do. And a good Batman costume should always come with a mask.

There's something to be learnt from the little one. My days are filled with the compulsion to move endlessly forward, considering anything that stops me a hindrance that must be overcome. There's little time for song and dance, and certainly no room at all for small luxuries. All the baby animals must be saved! And they must be saved now! In the meantime, I've ignored the world around me. Arctic, jungle, and desert have all melded into blur. God's wonders have become hazy and indistinct.

Perhaps it's time to institute rules of living from the Three-year-old.

Wander aimlessly for awhile. Keep loved ones close by. Be extra nice to those who want to give me undivided attention. Let the good guys into the castle, keep the bad guys out. Just because I get shot down doesn't necessarily mean I have to be down for the count. Don't be so afraid of going backwards for a little bit. Enjoy cheese puffs.

And, of course, when purchasing a Batman costume, always look for one with a mask.

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