Thursday, August 28, 2008

PJ and the Eternal Sunshine of the Wandering Mind

PJ is Zen.  He has a very Zen-like way of thinking.  He has this ability to disappear into what he is doing or what is going on around him.  In addition he also has been either blessed or cursed with the empathy of the middle child.  You can scream at Anna or Sam until you are blue in your face and they will just stare at you and blink like you area bothersome insect making noise, but if you yell at PJ and he takes it to heart.  PJ listens.  He actually hears what you say.  He'll say "I don't like it when you yell at me."  and he'll try and do what you tell him, at least until he moves on to the next thing that strikes him, eleven milliseconds later.

I love watching PJ brush his teeth.  I could do it forever.  For most children, brushing your teeth is a matter of getting it done as fast as you can possibly get away with so you can move on to the next thing.  For PJ, brushing your teeth is something to get lost in.  He stairs at himself in the mirror.  He stands there with his big eyes staring at his reflection in the mirror, his chipmunk cheeks working as he slowly and methodically brushes each tooth.  Then he just... forgets where he is.  I can come back ten minutes later and he'll still be there, staring at himself in the mirror brushing his teeth, his mind adrift in the cosmos.

One of PJ's jobs is to water the plants in the back yard.  I love to watch through the kitchen window as he goes out on the deck with his little watering can.  He'll walk out, and suddenly a bird, or a butterfly, or a bug will catch his eye and he'll become distracted.  Once distracted, there is no knowing how long he will just stand out there staring at things.  He could be out there for hours.  Then you need to remind him to finish the job, and he'll say "Oh yeah!" and snap back to the real world for a moment.

One time I asked him, "PJ, what are you thinking about?" 

He looked at me without hesitating at all and said "When I was playing Oblivion yesterday I found  a rusty shield, which doesn't have as much protection as a steel shield, but it was magically endowed with the power to ward off fire attacks.  Because my character was a Krug I had a weakness to fire.  With this shield I think I can defeat the grand champion in the arena!"

I said, "Oh."  So maybe his mind isn't vacant.  Maybe he likes to daydream.  Maybe his mind is moving around so fast that real world cannot keep up with him.   But I still like to watch him brush his teeth.

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