After basically ignoring me for two months, Alex has suddenly decided that he wants to socialize with me again lately. Of course, our interaction must be on his terms, and what he wants me to do is to make lists for him. While I’m thrilled that we’re on speaking terms again and that he’s being congenial to me, sometimes his list requests make me feel as though I’m a character in one of Laura Numeroff’s children’s book series, If You Give... that includes If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, If You Give a Pig a Pancake, If You Give a Moose a Muffin, and If You Give a Cat a Cupcake. The latter two books sit upon Alex’s bookshelf, and I doubt that he realizes his current behavior reminds me of the animal characters in the books, who cleverly convince the humans to get them anything they want. In If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, the mouse starts by requesting a cookie, then needs milk to go with it, next needs a straw to drink the milk, later a nap after the snack, and eventually another cookie. Alex is every bit as clever as the mouse, pig, moose, and cat, asking for something simple that leads to another and another, getting me to fulfill his wishes.
If you give Alex a random numbers list, he’ll ask for a list of random gas prices between $1.39 and $4.99.
If you give Alex a list of random gas prices between $1.39 and $4.99, he’ll remember that in 2005 when gas was about $4 a gallon, he played the video game Bosconian. Then he will want you to print all the different layouts of the Bosconian board.
If you give Alex the Bosconian board layouts, this will make him think about one of his favorite television game shows, Jeopardy, which has a board laid out with dollar amounts. Thinking about Jeopardy will make him ask for a list of how much Jeopardy contestant David Madden won each of the twenty days of his winning streak on Jeopardy.
If you give Alex information about how much David Madden won on Jeopardy, this will make him think about the Jeopardy theme song that plays when the contestants answer the final Jeopardy question. Thinking about the theme song will remind Alex that he really likes country music, so he’ll ask for a list of 100 country singers.
If you give Alex a list of country singers this will remind him that he received Alan Jackson and Kenny Chesney CD’s for Christmas gifts in the past. This will make him ask for a list of random Christmas gifts that he’s received over the years.
If you give Alex a list of random Christmas gifts, he’ll think about how cold and snowy Christmastime usually is, and he’ll ask for a list of random weather words.
If you give Alex a list of random weather words, this will make him think about the meteorological statistics, such as temperature, precipitation, and humidity. Thinking about these numbers will make him ask you once again for a random numbers list.
Although these scenarios seem—like the plots of the Laura Numeroff books—fictitious, the documents in my Word files and history files of my Internet browser will confirm that I fulfilled all of these unusual requests Alex made. Now if he’d just ask for something normal, like a (gluten-free and casein-free) cookie, or a pancake, or a muffin, or a cupcake; those are requests I could totally understand. Like other phases he’s overcome, I’m sure this one will pass, as well. In the meantime, I keep my laptop handy to make the various lists he decides that he needs.
“O Lord my God, You have performed many wonders for us. Your plans for us are too numerous to list. You have no equal. If I tried to recite all Your wonderful deeds, I would never come to the end of them.” Psalm 40:5