human behavior

A Four-Year Old’s Revenge

Posted in Habits & Manners, Religion & Ethics by humanb on March 11, 2010

My niece, who will be 5 in April, is allergic to just about every known allergen. The last time her preschool served food with traces of peanut, her beautiful face puffed up like a tomato and she was rushed to the hospital for an adrenaline shot.  Her daycare now maintains exhaustive lists of each child’s allergies.  Hers is the longest.

So she was not too impressed and pretty hurt when a boy in her class brought to school a cake with peanut butter icing for his birthday party. My niece is very fond of food.

That evening she asked her mother to find out from her teacher what the birthday boy was allergic to. “Why do you want to know what he’s allergic to?” her mother asked. She replied with absolute sincerity, “Because I want to put it in my birthday cake.”

Fascinating.

Is this a nascent sense of justice, or of vengeance?

If a man put out the eye of another man, his eye shall be put out.

Code of Hammurabi, ca. 1790 BC

Or is it simply a manifestation of our natural moral instinct – untempered and unrestrained?

Her intentions weren’t malicious. I doubt she wanted his face to puff up like a tomato. I suspect she simply wanted him to be denied what he denied her.

“That’s not fair.” This is a refrain with her. She’s obsessed with fairness. She expects the world to be at all times and in all ways equitable.

She’ll ‘grow up’ and grow out of this expectation.

But the Hammurabi instinct never really dies.

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3 Responses

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  1. Bridgette said, on March 12, 2010 at 10:40 am

    You forgot to mention she put him in a headlock when he told her he wasn’t allergic to anything.

    • humanb said, on March 12, 2010 at 10:43 am

      ROFLMAO. Wow. I didn’t know that. Perhaps that means the natural human instinct is towards violence!

      • Bridgette Jackson said, on March 13, 2010 at 4:24 pm

        When she was two and swinging around the banister, Guy Guy said she would be a pole dancer. Now at 4 you think she is a sociopath. Geez! This is why I pray! -smile


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