Villany close to home

My little lord tyrant, also known as my toddler (2), is nearing the end of his terrible twos. This would excite me beyond belief if it were not for the fact that prior experience has taught me the threes are even more trying.

As he sat in his booster seat at the table the other day considering whether or not food would look better either smeared in his hair or on the floor (because in his tummy is definitely not where it belongs), the hubby and I sought ways to distract him. We asked him what he wanted for his big day.

I wasn’t really expecting an articulate response. He is still two after all, and he did quite well for himself during the holiday season, but I was expecting him to say “planes,” or “monkeys,” or even “dinosaurs!” all of which are his reigning favorites. Instead he answered, “parties.”

My elder son, 6, was flabbergasted. Did his younger brother really just turn down presents? Surely his brother didn’t mean what he had just said. He obviously did not understand the question properly. He looked at 2 and offered multiple alternative suggestions. Don’t you want this? Don’t you want that? He was nearly begging his brother to suggest something, anything, that could be picked up from the store. 2 listened attentively. His brother was talking directly to him and as far as he is concerned his elder brother is a rock star.

You could almost see the gears turning in his head. Finally, after deciding that his food looked best squished into a paste on top of his place mat, 2 answered, “I don think so…”

Could it be that my youngest has already figured out that shared experiences are so much better than physical things? Could he, at 2, already be on the path toward a zen like state of happy acceptance? As both the hubby and I are flirting with minimalism, we were so proud.

But then I brought this story up to a few who also know his little lord majesty. They suggested a chilling alternative. What if 2 had already devised that “Party” typically means multiple presents? He did ask for parties. Plural. What if he really understood what the word meant? Why settle for a short list when you can have it all! My son could be playing a much bigger game.

Stewie Griffin
Stewie Griffin (Photo credit: Wikipedia) a character obviously based on my toddler

If that is the case, if his request was thought out, then there is a level of evil genius behind those adorable blue eyes that should frighten me to my core.

“He is the Napoleon of crime, Watson. He is the organizer of half that is evil and of nearly all that is undetected in this great city, He is a genius, a philosopher, an abstract thinker. He has a brain of the first order. He sits motionless, like a spider in the center of its web, but that web has a thousand radiations, and he knows well every quiver of each of them. He does little himself. He only plans.”

Sir Arthur Doyle wrote those words to describe Dr. Moriarty, but Sherlock Holmes could easily be describing my second born.

It’s a good thing then for my son’s sake, that I’ve always enjoyed a well developed villain (or anti-hero) whether it be in a book or on the screen. I like to better understand their motivations. To me, there is something awe inspiring about seeing their plan unfurl after they have lead the “good guys” on a merry goose chase. I enjoy them because I believe that by examining our darker motivations on the page or screen we actually are inspired to be better people in our daily lives.

Recently, I decided to cut back on my regular posting in order to finish up rewrites on my current novel project. The year is only a couple weeks old and I’ve made more progress in these few days than I have over the last several weeks. I’m don’t believe I am giving away too much to say that it features a character who eventually could be described as a villain, but is far from considering herself as one. You may not particularly like her, but if I’ve done my job, at least you will start to understand her.

But what about the villains out there who aren’t fictitious? Does my fascination with the anti-hero mean that I should feel more compelled to understand their backstory? Should I care about their motivations when what they have done seems senseless? There is an old saying that goes the road to hell is paved with the best of intentions. I truly believe that most people, in their hearts, believe they are good people, doing what is just, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t capable of committing the most atrocious acts. This is why the end result matters as much as the person or persons committing the act. I might sympathize with a person’s plight, but some ends are never justified by the means. In order to be good, you must also do good.

Perhaps I need to work on being more understanding or forgiving. Perhaps the world needs to get a little less crazy.

Until then, I continue to only celebrate the villains on the page, the real-life heroes, and maybe a certain soon to be three year old’s big day.

Je suis Charlie!

2 thoughts on “Villany close to home

  1. It’s always interesting to know the backstories of the villains, (especially from a story-writing perspective) but the ends won’t always justify the means, since as you say “in order to be good you must also do good”.


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