It was around the twenty-seventh minute of my daughter careening from one room to another yelling out the names of random Pokemon when my wife paused the failing restaurant reality show we were struggling to hear and asked, “Who do you think she gets her obsessive tendencies from? You or me?”
As with any question worth its salt, hers merited some thought before answering.
Arlie — who, I remind you, is 4 — has always been a creature that enjoyed her preoccupations. She jumps from passion to passion on a whim and sinks deeply into whatever ground she lands upon.
Until last week, that was dinosaurs. She’d awaken every morning talking about the dietary needs of a Tyrannosaurus rex and fall asleep every night with questions about the texture of velociraptor skin or where a diplodocus’ private parts might be found. She’d wander the house pretending to be an iguanodon or spark up a conversation with the invisible Triceratops that apparently lives in our backyard. His name is Horny. You know, because he has horns. Not because …
Let’s move on, shall we?
Pre-bedtime reading would be an exercise in frustration. I couldn’t make it from one period to the next without being stopped by a thousand interruptions. Not questions, mind you, about what we were reading, but statements covering what my child believes she knows about the subject matter being covered. Most of it was complete nonsense. She’d spit out some ludicrous hog swaddle about a Brachiosaurus baby weighing as much as a sack of chickens or claim the Parasaurolophus was well know for its skills behind the xylophone.
A week ago, I would have sworn my daughter was destined for a career in paleontology, time travel or, if the company can ever get its act together, some kind of upper management position at InGen.
But that was last week. This week, if they weren’t already extinct, the dinosaurs would be well and truly dead. At least to my daughter. Now, it’s all Pokemon, all the time. If Arlie’s isn’t bombarding me with questions about the evolutionary path of the Beldum, she’s inviting me to feed the invisible Snorlax that lives on our front porch. As far as I can tell, it and Horny don’t get along.
Arlie’s obsessive tendencies come naturally. Her parents both fixate on things, though our personal obsessions take different shapes. My wife tends to hone in on specific things — a band or a person, a video game or an idea — very intensely for an extended period. And she may juggle several of these at once, which seems exhausting to me.
My fixations are often less defined and very often, extremely brief. I may suddenly decide I’m a total slob, and the only way to fix this is to scrub the baseboards of our house — untouched since apes first fondled the monolith — of all semblance of grime immediately. Once this task is complete, I will feel human once again and go back to playing video games or eating a bowl of salsa or whatever.
So when I turned to answer my wife’s question, my daughter’s droning chant of “Charizard … Charizard … Charizard” the soundtrack to our conversation, I could offer only one explanation to the source of this particular personality tick. I think, however, it was the right one.
“Both of us,” I said.
ADAM ARMOUR is the news editor for the Daily Journal and former general manager of The Itawamba County Times. You may reach him via his Twitter handle, @admarmr.