A Child’s Mind

“Nate, come in here!” I yelled.

“I don’t want to come, you can’t make me, too bad I’m such a rotten comer,” he answered, his automatic response when summoned.

“Come here now!”

He was headed to the big TV room. I could hear his feet heavily pounding on the floor.

“Nate, did you touch the TV?” Last year I finally bought a nice big screen, a 52″ Samsung LCD. Nate is as tactile now as he was when he was small, his computer and laptop screens always smudged with fingerprints. When he gazes at The Simpsons or Johnny Test or toilets on the Word documents he makes, Nate feels the need to connect, physically, to his creations. That’s fine; monitors aren’t too expensive. Now the television, that’s another story.

He’s made his mark on the television before and we always go through the same routine. After I ask whether he’d put his fingers on the screen , Nate says, “I didn’t touch it.” I ask one or two more times.

“I’m not mad, just tell me.”

He hangs his head down and sticks out his lower lip.

“I did,” he shakes his shoulders as if he’s crying. He’s not, but when he play acts sadness he does mean it.

“Listen, I told you not to touch the screen. Why did you do it?”

“It’s was dusty. I used the duster.”

My heart sunk a bit, thinking on the disaster averted. He could have scratched the TV terribly with the Swiffer holder. The fact that he didn’t is where I find my solace: it could have been worse.

“Nate, if you wreck this TV you’re going to have to pay for a new one. It’s thousands of dollars.”

“But I’ll be broke!” he panics.

“Then don’t touch it.”

“I’ll never do it again.” He leaves as I get the official Monster-brand cleaning fluid and scrub away the streaks.

These are the most frustrating moments, when Nate behaves like a five-year old. He’s a hulk, a large almost 20-year-old, yet he still yells, whines and stomps up and down as if he were a toddler.

A few weeks ago, Nate said, “I’m not a kid, but I have the mind of a kid.” I’m not sure whether that’s a quote from a show he watched, but it summed him up nicely. His ability to reflect on himself is one of the joys of his development. When he carries on, just like he did 15 years ago, or talks to himself, I still realize how far we have to go.

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About Jeff Katz

Jeff Katz is Mayor of Cooperstown, the “Birthplace of Baseball” and home to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. His latest book, Split Season:1981 - Fernandomania, the Bronx Zoo, and the Strike that Saved Baseball, (Thomas Dunne Books, 2015), received national attention, with coverage appearing in The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Sporting News and NPR’s Only a Game, among others. Katz appeared on ESPN’s Olbermann and The Sporting Life with Jeremy Schaap and MLB Network’s MLB Now, with Brian Kenny. Split Season: 1981 was a finalist for the 2016 Casey Award for Best Baseball Book of the Year.
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