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Freedom to Decide


Today, I give you a piece of NeighborDave. ND rarely gave out pieces as he was growing up, as each time he did, it seems like the piece was gone and there was nothing in return. Now, I have discovered that such is the equation of life, at least from my perspective. Giving out pieces happens. If you realize that the equation is not balanced, at least in an immediate sense, a whole new room is open to you.

Old people have more pieces to give away, and a bag of pieces that (apparently) move on with them when they die anyway.

My wife and I have custody of our grandson, curtesy of the court with jurisdiction over such matters, who has had the case in front of them for 7 of his 8 years. It has been tortuous as we learned by the experience of the court system and the variant ideas about how he should be raised. His parents were not entirely raised in the environment of which we were largely familiar, our daughter, his mom, having been adopted out of the foster care system. For those of you unfamiliar with that world, it is not what was shown on TV in the ‘60s, alluded to on radio in the ‘30s, or even depicted in many novels over the years. Well, the guy that wrote Oliver Twist and A Tale of Two Cities dipped into that world a bit, but at a different time such that those in America who have always been in the game played by the powers that be in America, will see the world as appearing 300 years ago, but not relevant to the moves they make in the game. (I could go on, but let’s divert back to the limited piece that triggered this. Dickens – it came to me.)

The Dad has never been exposed to the game as played by the powers that be in America. His family has not been part of the game for generations. If you have a reference of the middle ages, they were the people in the low town or outside the wall, for whom the rules had little application. They had never been empowered by the application of the rules, only hindered. For generations, the role models in that world learned that the rules could be brought down upon you at the apparent whim of those in charge. They did not see the big connection that the rules had to even their ability to make more decisions than those in their “place” had made centuries before, or in other locales. They saw that they were outside the rules and they played that game accordingly, to the point of excelling in that game, which was in conflict with the bigger game. However, it was not in direct conflict at each step, merely indirect conflict and if that distinction saved them from hard enforcement of the rules, then that was enough for their game, which brings us to the piece.

But first, an interruption.

Sunday morning and my grandson is up with me and the dogs. I asked him what he wants for breakfast, if he would like to go on a walk, or what he would like to do. He anticipates that perhaps we will all walk to the local Diner for breakfast once my wife gets up and ready, so we have a couple of hours to spend. He doesn’t want to eat, as that would conflict with the anticipated (pancakes and bacon for him). I see all this in his face and body. Then, not entirely out of the blue, he says “Let’s go to the park and play Frisbee.” I laugh aloud and we begin. Barefoot in the wet grass, with folks driving, running, walking and biking by. One thing he got a hint of today: a good catcher can make a bad throw not so bad. It is amazing the things that are to be learned for good Frisbee exchange. It is a dance of those with intuitive learning ability. You can only learn so much of Frisbee from being taught. Most of it has to be learned by the calculations that are made by the brain without the human himself getting in the way of the calculating process. So on to the Piece.

My grandson asks about the rating of every thing (not “everything”, since I want the thing to stand on its own, as a thing) that he is exposed to on TV as I switch through the channels and stop. As we discussed the matter I discovered the he had learned the “freedom” of asking me this question, with the understanding that he could get me to turn off objectionable stuff. If it was PG 13 it did not get to stay absence sufficient reasoning on my part – under cross examination by him. And, he is good at cross examination, having learned it from me by example.

Here’s the thing, during his third year of life, he spent some weekends at his grandmother’s house (on the other side, if you will and I do mean a different side in many respects). There, he was exposed to all the Freddie movies. Well, exposed is imprecise. He watched them all with his slightly older cousins, and probably grandma as well. (He got the compiled set, not boxed, but compiled bit by bit one at a time, for Christmas when he was 4.)

He learned from the films. They scarred and scared him, both. But in our different side of the world, he gets to be heard and protected from such vagaries. It is certainly to an extreme, but he is beginning to understand that in the old west, sometimes gunplay, straight up and by certain rules that seemed to be enforced on occasion, might be the only manner of stopping misbehavior that was even further outside the rules. One day, he may watch those films without being tortured as a result. It will be interesting to see how his leverage regarding the choice to watch or not watch, and the learning gleaned from the exercise thereof, will play out over time. He will learn one way or the other, that life is a series of decisions made – by somebody. He will also learn to value his ability to make decisions.

There is a piece, shared. It is not written out in detail like a text book, as ND does not have the patience for that. There is a story, like has always been, some of which, at variant points, will be confusing to the reader. Like wine, it may age on you.

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