The second week.
Every morning Adam boils over when we finally arrive at the school, and clings to me – but with less and less conviction and fear. Today, I got him to his classroom through the kitchen area. There is a sliding door between the two areas, so as soon as Miss Britney swept him up, I closed the door, stocked his box in the refrigerator, and snuck around to see how he’d do through the windows of the class, which face the hall. In Miss Britney’s arms he was wearing an air of contentment, and she brought him to his little scoop seat and sat him down with the rest of the kids. As she was doing so, some child yelled, “Adam!”
One of the reasons we are breaking Adam’s heart each morning and exposing him to the discontents of civilization, such as they are, in a pre-school is that he has only been around adults. He is, after all, an only child. He’s a sociable one too – it doesn’t surprise me that he is soon calm and contented in his teacher’s arms, because he seems to have a knack for adults. What he needs, of course, is to pull away from his parents into childhood – the ‘hood of other children. It is an odd bond, this between parent and child – it grows by splitting.
Rousseau, in the Discourse on Inequality, writes:
“Were we to suppose savage man as trained in the art of thinking as philosophers make him; were we, like them, to suppose him a very philosopher capable of investigating the sublimest truths, and of forming, by highly abstract chains of reasoning, maxims of reason and justice, deduced from the love of order in general, or the known will of his Creator; in a word, were we to suppose him as intelligent and enlightened, as he must have been, and is in fact found to have been, dull and stupid, what advantage would accrue to the species, from all such metaphysics, which could not be communicated by one to another, but must end with him who made them?”
It isn’t true that everything Adam thinks ends with himself, since he loves to babble to us, have us chase him, have us change the video (taking my hand and pressing it on the tablet’s screen to indicate we’ve had enough of this episode of Petit Ours Brun), hug us, laugh with us, disagree with us about his clothes, tell us in no uncertain terms that it is not bedtime, etc. This is not civilization and its discontents, however. Adam is perhaps not old enough yet for the child who yelled Adam! But it is a good sign to me.