Pushing the Stroller

06/26/2008 By Shawn Burns

She moves like a bullet: straight, all of her momentum directing her at whatever target her sights were set on when she was fired.

She cannot be stopped, only deflected. Her momentum must be used rather than fought, and if it is used properly she can be turned completely around, forgetting her initial interest.

In a new place she deflects herself. And she does it with such regularity that it’s a wonder she ever touches anything at all: “Ball, guys…ooohh kitty……wall?…..maMA!…trash….” She is dizzying to watch. There are so many new things in the world for her, every day, that she just can’t choose: she is a living example of Buridan’s Ass, the donkey faced with identical bales of hay who cannot choose, and starves. She doesn’t starve, though. She spins.

All I can do for her is watch, wait, and occasionally offer something, anything that might tip the scales of her interest: “Hey kid, do you want this book? Well, you can’t have it. It’s my book.”

Because if it goes on too long she’ll grow frustrated and upset. My little Kierkegaard will despair of the infinite, and because she is too young yet to realize what finitude means, and so cannot yet despair of her lack of options, this is the only despair of choice she has: too much of it.

I don’t want to limit her choices. I want her to see the world as wonderful and novel, and to be comfortable with that without needing someone to guide her. I am not Hobbes, to think that true freedom only exists with guidance, like water down twisting flue.

But she is wiser than I. When her frustration peaks she will focus all of her attention; she will limit herself, shut out the world, and push her stroller.

“Sometimes the world is too big, guys.”