Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Shared Madness of Two

Once again, we are driving, making our two-hour commute to (or from, for the trips bleed together) my mother’s nursery school. Sophia is clinging to her beloved Snakey-Pie, who appeared in my closet one day before she was born (A county fair win? An abandoned toy? A misguided gift?) and somehow insinuated himself in our lives. He is an unlikely choice of transitional object—made of cheap velour (I’ve already repaired him twice), reptilian (What’s cuddly about a snake?) and of dubious background. But Sophia lovingly strokes his fluorescent orange fuzz as she sucks insistently at her left thumb, eyes blissful and content. I, of course, named him for all the ironic reasons that are self-evident. Which is completely lost on Sophie, because his name is adequately captures his dearness to her.

I am singing Snake-a-licious, or what I deem Snakey-Pie’s rap:

He’s snake-a-licious.
He does the dishes.
He likes your kisses.
He’s snake-a-licious.

Sophie pops her thumb out of her mouth long enough to shout, “again!”

He’s snake-a-licious.
He swims with fishes.
He grants your wishes.
He’s snake-a-licious.

Anyone, with perhaps the exception of my husband, who has come to accept that I personify most inanimate objects and occasionally pay homage to them with rap songs, would probably think I’m a tad embarrassing. And maybe a little strange to boot. But Sophia (at least for now) thinks I’m wonderful.

Together, we don our “boa” boas, do “like maniac,” to explicit Gwen Stefani lyrics, and run through sixteen dramatic permutations of uttering the words, “I’m in BIG trouble.” (Say it angry, Mom moms, now say it sad, now say it to the sky…). We act out scenes of pettiness and jealousy with her dress-able wooden dolls, practice toileting her babies (giving them baths when they fall in), and paint her two-year-old toenails gold.

There is a disorder still on the books of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders known as Folie a Deux or "the shared madness of two":

  1. A delusion develops in an individual in the context of a close relationship with another person or persons who have an already established delusion.
  2. The delusion is similar in content to that of the person who already has an established delusion.
  3. The disturbance is not better accounted for by another psychotic disorder, mood disorder with psychotic features, effects of a substance or general medical condition.

I don’t mean to make light of a psychological disorder (which is reportedly so rare that there is no prevalence or incidence data available on it), but I think it’s a terribly accurate description of what the joy of parenting is about for me. Because of Sophia, I am once again able to inhabit worlds of fancy and enjoy her as my companion in these worlds.

She transforms me into a whole barnyard of animals with the touch of her fairy wand. I can look at the sky and ask Sophia if it’s cloudy with a chance of meatballs, and she will answer gravely, “No, it’s cloudy with a chance of tomatoes.” We can call each other on banana phones in the produce section of Wegmans. Anything can and does happen.

This is the stuff real life is made of.

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