Sunday, September 14, 2008


It can be difficult to diagnose mental or emotional instability. Where is the line that separates a normal and healthy dislike of dirt from germophobia? How does one know when someone is just an introvert or an agoraphobic? It is normal to be so afraid of zombies that one risks soiling one's own pants? If you're Uncle Elmo, perhaps so. Who are we to judge (or diagnose)?

Helios appears to be normal in almost all ways. Grows normally, normal intelligence, normal aptitudes, normal shyness, slightly on the higher end of normal interest in trains, but still...pretty normal. Except for one thing:

Helios must have the large ice chest in the back of our mini-SUV.

For several weeks, Mommy and Daddy exasperatingly asked the other why the cooler was in the back of the car. Both denied putting it there, neither believed the other. We doubted each other's sanity, each other's honesty. We knew it got there, and, failing gremlins, spirits, or a pathological liar for a spouse, we were unsure how.

Then one day, we observed Helios. Like a puppet on strings, he was drawn to the large blue ice chest in the garage. Without asking, without saying a thing, he'd pick it up and carry it to the car, put it down, open the door, place the ice chest inside, and close the door. Then, Helios would be off to whatever his activities were, without missing a beat.

If we removed the ice chest from the back of the car, the entire scene would repeat itself, unfailingly identical.

When we finally asked Helios, "why is the ice chest in the back of the car?", he'd look at us as though we're dimwitted and say, very patiently, "because it needs to stay cold in the back of the car for all the food we're going to get." "But," we'd say, "we're not going to the grocery!" Helios then did the 3-year-old equivalent of an eye roll and said, "But we go to the store sometimes!"

Obsessive disorder or ready-made Boy Scout-preparedness? You decide.

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