A Growing Problem

Normally I like to restrict my advice to the parents, since they so desperately need it, but that does not mean that I am unaware of the failings of my own kind. No, I am always vigilant. Even virtuous beings like us babies can still have room for improvement (though we’re certainly way ahead of the parents), and that is what I would like to address today.

There is a disturbing trend in babies, and I must confront it before it goes too far. There’s no easy way to put it, so I’ll just come out and say it: Babies are getting too small. When I first started my career as a baby, all babies were around the same size. There was some variety, but it was pretty evenly distributed. However, small is now in fashion, and it seems like every baby I meet is tiny. I’m not questioning any baby’s individual right to choose to be small. That’s a personal decision. But it has become a fashion, and it’s getting out of hand.

I can certainly understand not wanting to be big like the parents. Obviously, whatever we can do to separate ourselves from them is a good idea, but think about what you’re doing. If this trend keeps up, eventually us current babies will seem as big as the parents by comparison! Would you really want to do that to your fellow babies?

So please, before you decide that you want to be the smallest baby ever, stop and think. If we all stand together we are stronger than when every new baby thinks it has to out-small the rest of us.

Blurred Vision

As you know, I am not one to criticize the parents. The way I see it, they really can’t be held responsible for their actions. So don’t take this as me being unkind in any way. It’s just that Mommy and Daddy really are complete idiots.

Recently I’ve been going through the trouble to start learning their language, or what passes for language among parentkind. What a waste of time that has been! Now that I can understand their words they seem more helpless than ever.

They’re constantly losing things, and asking me to find them. A few things I can understand. “Where’s the ball?” “Where’s your bottle?” – I get it. There’s a lot of things in this house. It’s certainly possible to lose something. The problem is that the things they lose are usually right in front of them!

Not only that, but when I show them where something is, they forget about it almost instantly. They’ll ask “Where’s the circle?” and ten seconds after I’ve pointed it out to them they’ll ask the same thing again! I’ve heard about how bad the attention span of parents can be, but I’m pretty sure Mommy and Daddy are setting a new record.

And that’s still not the worst of it. Sometimes they can’t even find themselves! “Where’s Mommy?” Really? You’re standing right in front of me! “Where’s Miranda?” Okay, this is just sad.

You might think at this point that they obviously have some sort of disability, but the sad part is that it’s entirely self-imposed. Mommy and Daddy are constantly wearing these odd windows on their faces. From a distance they look like any other windows, but occasionally Mommy and Daddy will put them on my face, and make a big deal out of it. Apparently they think it’s hilarious.

Anyhow, these windows make everything blurry! No wonder the parents can’t find anything! And yet they insist on wearing them all the time. I’ve tried to take them away, but they just grab them and put them back on their faces.

At this point, I’m sure there is no hope for them. They are beyond even my help.

Lateral Thinking

In tenth grade I had to take a course to prepare for the workforce. The class included interviewing a person in my career of interest, doing mock job interviews, and even some creative writing and public speaking.

One day the teacher told us we were going to do lateral thinking problems. As it turned out, lateral thinking was just another term for trick questions. They were designed to test if I could answer questions without making unwarranted assumptions.

Here’s an example: A man is walking down a country road that has no street lights. He is wearing black clothes and not carrying a flashlight. A black car with it’s headlights off comes speeding around the corner just in front of the man. It screeches to a stop, narrowly avoiding running the man over. How did the driver of the car see the man in the road?

You can have a lot of fun imagining possible answers. At that time cars didn’t have collision sensors, so let’s assume the car is old and it’s up to the driver to stop. It’s possible the walker was carrying some light other than a flashlight, like a cell phone, a headlamp, or glow sticks. Perhaps the driver was wearing night-vision goggles. Maybe it was just a coincidence.

As it turns out, none of these ingenious solutions is necessary. Nowhere in the problem does it state that it is dark. Check it out for yourself. Since lights are mentioned several times, the mind makes that assumption, but it’s not in the question.

This test still counts as one of the proudest moments of my life. I don’t think any of my classmates answered more than fifty percent of them correctly, but I only missed one.

You see, my brain is terrible at handling assumptions. That can be very helpful in programming and, to a lesser extent, business, but it’s a major liability in personal interaction. Allow me to demonstrate.

People often ask me questions. I’m good at answering them, provided they’re factual. If they’re not factual my brain will change them until they are. This is especially a problem with “How” questions. Not all “How” questions, mind you. Some just want you to describe a step-by-step process, such as “How do you download an email attachment?” or “How did you get up in that tree?” Those my brain handles just fine. It’s the other “How” questions.

Often when people ask how, it seems like they’re asking for a description. “How does the fish taste?” It seems innocent enough, but it’s a trap. “It tastes like a fish” is the wrong answer. So is “It can’t. It’s dead.” What people actually want is not a description, but a judgment. Intellectually I understand that, and yet my brain says, “Who am I to judge whether a fish is good or bad?”

This gets even more confusing with “How” greetings. “How are you?” doesn’t mean “What conditions led to you existing?” even though that’s what my brain hears. And since I can’t reliably judge a fish, I definitely don’t have enough information to judge my own condition. Of all the people on earth I am singularly unqualified to that task. So my brain gets a bit stuck.

Over time I have divined that the preferred answer is “Good, how are you?” Even “Hi” seems to be acceptable, though I have no understanding of how that is related. Just whatever you do, don’t try to answer the question literally. No one wants to know that.