judge mommy

This happens approximately 321 times a day.

I'm in the kitchen imagining a different life for myself when I hear the following:

Buster: (screech)
Chicken: (rage grunt)
(thud)
Buster: (howl of agony)
(footsteps approaching)

Buster runs into the kitchen, mouth squared, nose wrinkled, cheeks purple. He's gone full orc. I pretend I can't see or hear anything that happens outside of this room, so I smile at him and say, sunnily, "what's up, buddy?"

He responds, "Chicken mean me!" Translation: Chicken hurt me and I'm here to call the law down on his ass.

I say, "Oh no, are you okay?"

He says, "NO."

(He is clearly okay. No bite marks. Both eyeballs still in-socket. Tooth count is good.)

I follow him back into the playroom where Chicken has buried himself up to his eyeballs in stuffed animals. His bright, brown eyes watch me warily as I approach. That's his first mistake... if you're innocent, Chicken, why'd you run?

Me: What happened, Chicken?

Chicken: Nothing.

Me: Buster ran into the kitchen crying. Do you know why?

Chicken: No.

Me: Buster, can you tell me what happened?

Buster: I wanna (unintelligible toddler sounds) train (unintelligible toddler sounds) knees (unintelligible toddler sounds) SHOES!

Me: Oh, I see. (turns to Chicken). I need you to tell me what happened.

Chicken: Nothing happened!

Buster: (unintelligible accusatory toddler sounds)



Here's what I always say at this point:

Chicken, I'm not mad. Just tell me what happened so I can make sure everybody is safe.

Here's what I WANT TO say at this point:

Chicken, even though nothing - and I mean NOTHING - is going to come of this, I still need you to tell me what happened, so we can untangle the process and come to a fair consequence.

I'm like small claims court, babe. I can't just be like, "shut up you're dumb." I have to TRY this thing. I have to HEAR both sides. I have to LISTEN to your STORY about how this fucking BLOCK is the most important BLOCK and then I have to NOD while Buster makes his SOUNDS about a BLOCK that is the same as 30 other BLOCKS in the bin RIGHT THERE. And then I have to RUMINATE. Sagely. And then I have to EJUDICATE the fucking CASE of the ONE BLOCK.

so
to be clear
this block
this one right here
is somehow different
from the
... (counts real quick) ...
17 other blocks
that appear to be
identical to this block

is that what you're saying
defendant chicken?

We have a sham of procedural justice in this house because anything else is INSANITY to model to you entropic savages. Justice is the hockey mask on the Hannibal Lecter that is YOU, Chicken. And YOU, Buster.

So let's ALL PRETEND REAL HARD RIGHT NOW THAT this is about one exchange with a block that has precedent and procedure for me to follow. 

Let's just all look the other way and imagine that Buster didn't lie down on Chicken's face, and that Chicken didn't bite Buster's chest, and that Buster didn't then punch Chicken's throat, and that Chicken didn't then kick Buster's belly, which sent Buster into my office where I was looking at fall moccasin booties.

You're both guilty and you BOTH deserve solitary but la la la la la I'm gonna see if we can just pull out a conviction for light assault, the sentence for which is "check in with your brother to see if he's okay," and "make sure to do the same fucking thing in exactly four minutes so we can shave a few seconds off our record time."


NEXT.

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