He-Man belongs in a muddy hole.
This little ditty of my own creation has bopped around in my head since the mid 80’s when I was a senior at University of Tennessee Knoxville. It always reminded me of things kids do that seem to make no sense.
I lived up on Highland Avenue just west of 17th street. Every day I’d walk to campus and around campus then home. Back then most of my classes were in Glocker (since rechristened Haslam Business College Building or something of that ilk. I guess Haslam’s more recent donation out weighed Glocker’s of the 1910s). So I’d have at least a three quarters mile walk down Highland hill every morning. Actually mornings weren’t so bad it was downhill with coffee. It was the return home uphill, a very steep one, that got me. So going home I’d cut over through a small block that was of houses being re-gentrified at the time. The houses were being restored from student slums to single family homes by young couples or families.
One warm Spring or Summer day I pass one with a bright new lawn and small boy by a big freshly dug hole. His hole had been made a great mud hole by his use of a bright orange hose. He stood there all muddy looking contrite as Mom scolded him for scarring the newly restored lawn and putting his toys in the muddy hole of his creation.
Mom asks sternly as I approach. “WHY DID HE-MAN NEED TO BE PUT IN A MUDDY HOLE?!?”
As I pass I too am keen on the answer. Yeah kid was this a new planet? Was he drowning Skeletor? Is this a kink thing with him and She-Ra? WHAT?! Please Kid enlighten us. To my gross disappointment the Kid didn’t explain he just shrugged and said “I dunno.”
Which was my first glimpse as a very young adult on the real quandary of parenting. Why DO kids do some of the stuff they do? I vowed I’d ask mine.
You see I can remember back in 1969 when we moved to Jennifer Street in Greeneville. I was in the bathroom and was running water in the sink to wash my hands. I dried them off without turning off the water and dropped the towel in the sink. Well I discovered that the air trapped in it made the towel bubble up. It reminded me of how a baking cake rises. So I thought “I’ll make a pretend towel cake.” I plugged the sink and ran the water in my imagination I was becoming the best-est cake chef EVER! I danced about my rising cake imagining how the Princess and King would love my cake and make me royal baker. As the sink filled to overflowing my cake was about done and parades in the kingdom were being prepared. Until Mom came in shouting about the water overflowing, the mess, and what was I thinking! I started to explain but was shooed out to clean up the water, wring out the towel and get on with life. Parade cancelled. No problem out to the swing set where I’d become the Royal gymnast…
I remember several times in my life where I did things in ‘playing pretend’ that on the outside probably looked like He-Man in the muddy hole. But there were reasons. There were stories. It wasn’t as if I was just possessed to dig a hole, drag the hose over, muddy it up and toss He-Man in. Then stand there waiting for the scolding. It made sense in the context of my own mind albeit maybe not a practical one.
So time passed and when I saw a kid doing something odd my mind would sing-song my ditty from my undergrad walk home and the memory of the kid with the muddy He-Man. Eventually I had a little boy all my own. Not to my surprise he did things that from my now outside adult view looked crazy. BUT this was MY kid, THIS was MY time to find out – what DO other kids think when they are doing these things?
I found many things he did were just experiments – what happens if you put a roll of toilet paper in the sink and run water through it will it asborb it as fast as the water comes out. Nope. What happens if you leave a spoon in the garbage disposal. Loud noise broken spoon. Things like that. Yet there were many unknowns – why do you put your dirty socks under your bed not in the hamper with other dirty clothes? I dunno. Why do you pick up your Star Wars/Harry Potter/latest toys but not the painful legos? I dunno. Why is there a melted slice of cheese up stairs in radiator by your bed? I dunno.
Apparently there are just some things kids don’t share with grown-ups. Either we wouldn’t understand or the concepts being tested would just blow our minds.