Remy has recently discovered the concept of “maybe.”
“Mama, where is fire trucks going?”
“hmmm… what do you think?”
“Maybe…. the library! Maybe. Maybe…. the park!”
“Mama, where my red shoes? Maybe in closet!”
I had never thought about maybe as a concept that had to be learned until I realized Remy had crossed the threshold from “I must know exactly the right answer” into “I can offer up my own theory and it’s okay if its not right.” I’m fairly certain that I didn’t consciously cross that threshold until well into my adult life.
Of course, I should have had the realization that this is a thing that must be learned about half way through the first day of law school. Sure, there is the law, and the law is exactly the right answer. But…. but look how differently the law is applied in those two expertly chosen sample cases in your over-priced tomes! What now, 1L?
And, at the very least, within my first week of practice. Sure, there are conflicting cases from other jurisdictions, but just try to guess how this district court judge is going to apply the law in your case. I bet you didn’t even realize there were still questions of first impression left to discover. You found one! Good luck!
The beauty of watching Remy unravel the magic of maybe is, I must admit, a lot more gratifying than deconstructing even just one of the “maybes” in the law.
Remy’s maybe is: maybe I don’t have to be right; maybe I can influence what will happen; maybe I can figure it out for myself. These are all downright magical lessons in childhood agency.
Whereas the maybe in neglect cases is more often: maybe I can prevent harmful visits; maybe we can find a forever home and be supportive to both the foster parents and the child; maybe I can find funding for a child’s therapy. Less magical on the surface of things. But perhaps no less empowering. Because, in any area of the law, isn’t the maybe always: maybe I can influence what will happen; maybe I can figure out a way to harness an uncertain law for the best interest of a client? That is pretty magical, or at least has the potential to be.
Although I will concede that the fact patterns that drive Remy’s maybes are a lot nicer than any that I encounter at work.
“Mama! Maybe this pirate is a fire-man!”
“Maybe… Remy take alligator for walk to the moon!”
“Maybe a-day Remy is a dragon! Rrar!”
Even before law school re-wrote the processes in my brain, I’m pretty sure I was never an absolute truth kind of girl (although, not certain because, let’s face it, I don’t remember that much about my thinking process before law school). I can’t imagine ever being the mom that rolls her eyes and says with exasperation, “No, Timmy, that fire truck is going to a fire or to the fire station. End. Of. Discussion.” I mean, I know I would never say that because I also know, for a fact, that the fire truck also spends a fair amount of time at the King Sooper’s parking lot while the firefighters stock up on tasty treats and hand soap.
What I do remember, though, is spending a lot of time looking up the answers to questions in books (yes, books, I was a little kid a long time ago) and, if it was a question from school, looking up the answer in the designated school book. This kind of learning did not serve me well in law school, is frustrating when working with a question of first impression, and is downright impossible when muddling through questions about parenting a child who is nothing like the sample children in parenting books.
What I wish I had even imagined as an option was thinking about what the answer might be, why that might be an answer, and how I might go about testing that hypothesis. This approach was hard to learn as an adult but is much more gratifying and infinitely more effective in maters of the law and parenting. Even if Remy ends up looking up the answers to his future fire-truck-location questions on real-time tracking in Google Maps, I hope that he knows he has other options. Like guessing, “Maybe… at King Soopers” and then asking to go there to get a tasty treat.