Jessica Day George

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

When Your Child Takes Orders From a Trash-Compacting Robot

Boy loves Wall-e.

I mean, he really loves Wall-e. We aren't sure what it is about the little trash-compacting 'bot that does it for him, maybe it's the big eyes, the cute little noises, the fact that all Wall-e wants is a girl to hold his hand, but something about it appeals to him, and has since he first saw that trailer for the movie a year and a half ago. That's right: he was obsessed before the movie even came out. He saw the preview on a DVD, and that was it for him. We had to play the preview over and over, we had to find more previews and film clips on the computer, and play them over and over, and I worried that the movie would not live up to the hype.

But of course it did, and he loved it, and we had a Wall-e birthday party and we own the Wall-e Blu-Ray and Boy eats off of a Wall-e plate and sleeps on Wall-e sheets (in a Lightning McQueen bed) and wears Wall-e pj's and shirts and underwear and takes Wall-e vitamins and plays with Wall-e toys.

And we're fine with that.

(I believe I mentioned the 96 My Little Ponies boxed up in the basement.)

But then Wall-e started to tell my son things.

Like, "Today is Wall-e's birthday. He's six. He wants us to sing to him, and he wants these three toys as presents."


I played Happy Birthday on the piano for Wall-e, and he received his present graciously.

But now I'm hearing things like, "Wall-e needs to come to preschool with me. He says he needs to watch what I'm doing."

"Wall-e just told me how to play a great game, but it's lunchtime so I need to explain that his game will start after lunch. I hope he's not mad."

"Wall-e says he has a lot of work for me to do today. I wonder how I will get it all done in time."

What this work is isn't clear. So far it's involved reading a book about robots, and one about The Clone Wars, and playing with sidewalk chalk. I can deal with that. That's all fairly innocuous.

What worries me is that Wall-e will decide he's mad at someone . . . say, me. If Wall-e tells Boy to cut holes in Mommy's clothes, or rip the pages out of Mommy's books, will he do it? Who does he love more, me or the robot? I'm afraid to test this. Also, Wall-e has shown a suspicious interest in the lighsabers in the basement, and we're having some Star Wars/Wall-e crossover. Boy is quite good with a lightsaber, a point of pride for me and the Mister. I'm becoming concerned, though, that he's switched from being the blue-Anakin lightsaber to the red-Darth Vader lightsaber. (The fact that they are the same person is not believed by a four-year-old.)

That's right, my four-year-old has already left the Jedi Order and become a Sith. Wall-e's influence? I'm not sure.

But I do know one thing, I miss the days when Boy would sit in the corner with his hands folded on his chest, "cubing up" for the night. That was when Wall-e was just a movie.

Before he started giving my son "work" to do.

Let's all hope the next day's agenda doesn't involve gasoline and matches and the neighbor's house. . . .