The Young Master is against fighting, unless you're talking about strangers who look at him (he is doing very well with strangers at the moment, by the way). We took him to a kid's karate class and he refused to participate beyond the warm-up. "They're punching and kicking!" he told me indignantly.

"Yes, but... air punching! Air kicking!" I protested. Which brings me to another thing. He doesn't like Kung Fu movies. He refuses to watch Kung Fu movies. I mean, he refuses to watch Kung Fu Panda. More than that, he refuses to watch any movie or TV show where the characters fight each other. I am stunned to discover how violent children's television really is.

He hates pirates "because they fight". He had a nautical theme for his fourth birthday, and when it came time for the "treasure hunt" he kept insistently repeating to everyone, "But we're not pirates. We are marine archeologists."

We made a recent trip to Malaysia for a long weekend, and at one point we were hanging out at a playground with some local kids who only spoke Malaysian, which The Master does not. They were playing with toy guns - something that hasn't worked out at home (by which I mean "home" and also home). Imagine my surprise when I saw Master using a stick as a gun and shooting right back at them, laughing playfully all the while. As I watched, however, things became clearer. Master's gun wasn't your normal gun - it was a special ray-gun which turned "bad guys" into nice, friendly people. I don't speak Malay either, but I'm pretty sure the other kids were playing an entirely different game - something more traditional, like cops and robbers (in the old-school, shoot-em-up style, as opposed to Master's version which focuses more on rehabilitating the criminals into useful and upstanding citizens*). 

In the playground at home, the whole thing would have disintegrated under the strain of competing narratives, but here -  barred from mutual comprehension - they got along just fine. It's funny. We spend our whole lives striving to make ourselves understood, and it turns out that sometimes a little misunderstanding goes a long way.

*You should hear how he plays armies. He brings in diplomats to diffuse the violence and then professionals to repurpose war technologies to civilian ends. Starting with the airforce, which becomes a commerical air fleet offering passenger, mail, cargo, and scenic pleasure flight services. I promise you this isn't a game of our devising.

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