September 2007 Archives

Patience with tantrums

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Peter told me (at some point in the past ten years or so) that when Jay and I were kids, he used to take us to the store sometimes when he went shopping.

And he said that if one of us started throwing a tantrum inside a store, he would just take us outside, sit down with us, and wait for us to calm down. As long as it took.

I don't remember this at all from childhood. I suspect that he wasn't quite as patient as he made it sound. But I liked the idea of it.

No Gremlins

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Most of the time, Peter didn't restrict our reading or viewing. (Other than the fact that we didn't own a TV from the time I was small 'til mid-high school--but we were allowed to watch TV at friends' houses.) We had the full run of his bookshelves; I was reading his old science fiction as soon as I could read, and I read his copies of the Illuminatus! trilogy at age 14 or so.

But there were two specific movies that he was hesitant about.

One was the time when he wanted to go see Prince of the City. I wanted to go along, though I knew nothing about the movie. He told me that he would take me to it (it was rated R, for violence I think), but that I probably wouldn't enjoy it very much; it was aimed at grownups, and there wouldn't be much for a kid to appreciate, and that I might like it more when I was older. Which, of course, made me more interested in seeing it--though I vaguely think there had been a couple of books that he'd said that about, that I had refrained from reading. So I went along with him to the movie, and he was right; I didn't like it.

The other case was more extreme: he explicitly forbade us to see the movie Gremlins, I think on the grounds that it was too violent or too gory or something. Of all the movies in the world, I never understood why that one was the only one he ever told us we weren't allowed to see. I never did see it--never had any interest in it--though I heard a lot about it from friends.

Book clubs

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Peter would sign up for book clubs, but never paid any attention to their flyers or catalogs. When the month's automatic selection arrived in the mail, he would carefully open the invoice attached to the outside to see what the book was, and if it wasn't one he wanted, he would re-seal the invoice and return the package unopened. Eventually, the book clubs switched him to the secret alternate plan where they only send a book if you explicitly order it. I don't think he intended any part of this to happen; I think he would just forget to tell them to cancel ahead of time.