Passage of the Week

space station

Kid logic. You know it when you hear it. It’s strange yet beautifully straightforward, and every time you hear it – no matter how frustrating the situation you just then find yourself in – your heart shoots off a few sparks of joyful recognition. Because once upon a time, our brains worked like that, too. Things were simple. Clear-cut. So obvious that it made your head hurt when an adult couldn’t see it.

I recently came across an exquisite bit of kid logic. It was at my wedding. There were over a dozen kids in attendance, and so my wife and I made sure we had plenty of things to keep them occupied. We bought a tiered wedding cake, but left it blank, and set it up on a low table with baskets full of decorations. The kids spent the cocktail hour turning the thing gorgeous. (Don’t worry – we also ordered a few hundred donuts for dessert.)

We also had plenty of toys and games, including a heap of rubbery dinosaurs. These were a hit, of course – because, well, dinosaurs – and the next day, when my nephew couldn’t find the stegosaurus he’d left behind the night before, he was understandably distraught. A search party was drummed up and sent out. But alas, the stegosaurus could not be found.

My brother-in-law finally called off the hunt, and did his best to soothe his son. And when his sadness persisted, my brother-in-law tried to reason with him. “I don’t understand,” he said. “You have the same dinosaur at home. That exact stegosaurus. It’s sitting in your bedroom. Right now. Why do you need another one?” The answer was simple, obvious, as straightforward as it comes: “Because then they could fight.”

Kid logic. Airtight. Unarguable. Hearing it at work can bring you back to the time in your life when the world was governed by it. Which is a reason why, if an author has access to such patterns of thought, he ought to take advantage and use it. The person, besides myself, that I probably talk about most on this blog, Jerry Spinelli, is gifted when it comes to employing kid logic. I don’t think the guy has ever properly grown up – and I mean that in the best possible way.

Below, Spinelli is dealing with the logic of kids slightly older than my nephew. Our narrator, Jason, and his friend, Richie, are in seventh grade. But the kid logic is still strong in them. Elsewhere in the book, Jason even gets upset about his dinosaur toys being missing – his little brother keeps taking them to play with. Jason’s not angry, though, because he wants to be playing with the dinosaurs himself. No way. He’s done playing with dinosaurs. He’s too old for that. He’s a collector, that’s all. He’s got a collection, and he just wants to keep his toys – err, his belongings – nice.

May we all be lucky enough to keep a little kid logic in us. And if not, to at least be around it enough to help keep us young.

From Space Station Seventh Grade, by Jerry Spinelli (p. 152)

“I’m only going for the food,” I kept telling them, but they wouldn’t believe me. Mom kept trying not to grin, and Ham kept saying, “Of course. The food. Why else?”

Well, it was true. I was going to the Valentine’s dance because of the free food. Mainly, anyway. Richie came up with the proof. He said: “I can prove we’re goin’ just mainly for the food.”

“How?” I asked him.

“Because even if they were having a class in the gym that night, if they were serving free food, we would still go.”

There’s your proof.

So, with that out of the way, I could start concentrating on other stuff. Like Debbie Breen, and what to do about her and Valentine’s Day.

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