My son has a rather instrumental view of parental love. As far as he is concerned, the affection felt by his parental units is a means for him to achieve certain ends. At 10 months, his main objectives are to be fed when he is hungry and to be taken out of the house so that he can see cars zipping by. In seeking the second objective, he has learnt that when one of the parental units says “Let’s go Tata”, they often follow it up by opening the door and taking him out, but sometimes they cheat him and do not take him out. Worse still, the PU pretends to take him out, but then cheats him by leaving him with the other PU and goes tata all by himself. So, he now applies the following heuristics:
- The male parental unit is more likely than the female parental unit to take him out to tata.
- The parental unit that is putting on footwear is the better bet.
- The parental unit that is standing at the door is more likely to take him tata.
- Once the parental unit has gone out through the door and closed it, it means that he will not be taken tata now, but sometimes wailing loudly opens the door.
These heuristics have served him well so far, but sometimes strange things happen when they come into conflict. For example, today, the male parental unit was putting on footwear, while the female parental unit decided to say “Tata” to him and go out. This brought two of his rules into conflict, but he stuck with rule nos 1 and 2 and stayed calm. Then, after the MPU seemed ready with his footwear, it turned out that the FPU was at the door, offering to take him Tata, so he lunged for her. Then, to his surprise, he found that the positions were now reversed and the MPU was at the door pretending to go Tata all by himself. A quick wail soon corrected the situation.