birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

Children

At their youngest, babies are easy. Other than obvious physical discomforts, their cries convey one of a handful of things: "I'm hungry," "I'm tired," "Please change my diaper," "Hold me." When my daughter was a baby, no cry could not be alleviated by addressing those four desires.

As our daughter got older, we would respond to her frequent tantrums by asking her to "Use your words," to the point where she would mock us by parroting back, "Use your words! Use your words!" in the manner of "nyah, nyah, nyah."

The difficulties lie in the fact that as we get older, our wants become more diverse and complex, out-stripping our abilities to both understand and convey exactly what it is that we want. Often times, and in the most critical ways, we don't truly know what we want and instead go about collecting ersatz proxies that, at best, temporarily mollify ourselves. It's hard to get what you want when you don't know what you want. Much easier to buy that shiny object and call it a day.

But that doesn't put off the want, it just bumps up the frustration at the lack of understanding and the shock that comes due when the misunderstanding is revealed.

Since the very beginning, we have tried to be as open as we could with our daughter about how the world works, including our bodies. Children frequently are very curious about it since it's what is most immediately in front of them. So, we dutifully got a couple of children's books that went into the workings of the human body in fairly good detail, and she pored over them for several years starting at age 2. She would point to each picture and have us explain each part of the body, over and over, for years. And when she didn't fully understand something, she would ask for further explanations, again, over and over, for years.

Our thought was that if we were upfront about the body's various functions, sounds and excretions, she would be comfortable with her body and who she is becoming.

But there's a difference between knowing something and understanding something. One day, when she was 8 years old, having again gone over the part about reproduction for perhaps the 747th time, it dawned on her.

"Wait a minute," she said, turning to my wife. "You and daddy did that?! Eeeww."
 

Candyland

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