Friday, October 13, 2006

My Little Phineas

I've finally come up with a good explanation for Mashuga. Not that this kid (or any child, really) is thoroughly definable. Mashuga especially (and the fact that he has survived a full three and a half years) defies explanation. But, I still think I've come up with a pretty good archetype for him.

I've just begun re-reading one of my favorite books, A Separate Peace by John Knowles. The words he uses to define one of the main characters really describes Mashuga well.

"...simple, shocking self-acceptance."

"Phineas didn't really dislike West Point in particular or authority in general, but just considered authority the necessary evil against which happiness was acheived by reaction, the backboard which returned all the insults he threw at it."

"...Finny pressed his advantage. Not because he wanted to be forgiven...he might rather have enjoyed the punishment if it was done in some novel and unknown way....The Master was slipping from his official position, and it was just possible, if Phineas pressed hard enough, that there might be a flow of unregulated friendliness between them, and such flows were one of Finny's reasons for living."

"Everything he said was true and sincere. Finny always said what he happened to be thinking, and if this stunned people then he was surprised."

"[He was]unique, able to get away with anything at all. And not because he was a conniver, either; I was sure of that. He got away with everything because of the extraordinary kind of person he was."

And last of all, a good description of how we feel about him as parents:

"The Devon faculty had never before experienced a student who combined a calm ignorance of the rules with a winning urge to be good, who seemed to love the school truly and deeply, and never more than when he was breaking the regulations, a model boy who was most comfortable in the truant's corner. The faculty threw up its hands over Phineas..."

Honestly, what else can you do with a kid like this? I already feel this way about Mashuga and he's only three. At once he is exasperating and enchanting. He wants very much to be good, but at the same time has such a calm disregard for authority and rules. The next fifteen to twenty years ought to be breathtaking. In many ways.


Tyler said...

You'll maybe appreciate this-- I've lived my life by that quote (model student/truant's corner) and I was searching for it to quote, and your site popped up on google.

I realize this is an ancient post by internet standards and you may not even post anymore, but if you see this, know I found your site simply searching for the quote, and that's kind a cool thing.

Heather said...

Tyler, that is very cool. I've always loved Phineas. Even before I was raising him. :)

I'm glad you found my blog. And even more glad that you commented. It gave me a chance to reread this post and remember why I love this (often challenging) child. Somehow, a calm disregard for rules was more charming in a 3yo than it is in a 7yo. I still wouldn't change him for anything, though.