I've been pulling out this piece of paper upon which Charlie wrote "can't find it" at intervals as we use the laptop. He's chiefly interested in going to YouTube.com or Google search to watch tv shows from his (gulp) early (Charlie will be thirteen in just about four months---oh, my, ........) childhood, or to see photos of toys that he used to have: a game called Farm Families, a VTech laptop, and the original LeapBook from Leapfrog.
I was relieved when Charlie started getting interested in searching for the toys. With a little finessing with one's search terms, most anything toy-wise, CD-wise, video/DVD-wise, created in the past 12 1/2 plus years can be found on the Internet. (For instance, typing "Farm Families" only gets us one photo of the box of that game, but type in "Farm Families Milton Bradley" and there's a few more photos for Charlie to peruse). Videos of kid tv shows are the dangest thing to find, thanks to copyright restrictions. I mean, of course I know that these are necessary (and I even found myself downloading---a bit ironically?---a copy of a book about piracy and the "intellectual property wars" the other day). But explaining to Charlie why one day there was a video he's watched for the past few months on YouTube and the next it was gone "due to copyright restrictions," pulls at the parental creative juices.
In the past, I would tell Charlie "that one's not available" (a phrase that sounded stiff and "huh?" to me) and then "we can't find it." At some point or other, the latter words hit a quite raw nerve in Charlie, and hearing "can't find it" garnered a response equivalent to another bugaboo phrase, "broken." Hearing that something was lost or irredeemably beyond repair, bothered Charlie to distraction and, sometimes and ultimately, "behavioring." It was only in the past few months that---maybe in hopeful consideration of Charlie getting, as he indeed is, older and more mature---that I decided to address the delicate issues of "can't find it" and "broken" head-on. First I deliberately said those words but just once, in a clear and steady, and matter-of-fact voice, in a (very hopeful, possibly vain) attempt to help Charlie think of these concepts as part of (for lack of a better expression) the natural order of things.
And over the past few weeks, I've had him write "can't find it" and "can't find them" a couple of times and have referred back to the above-photographed sheet. Somehow me doing so, and pointing to the words (mine and Charlie's) as I say them with Charlie repeating, makes the notion of "can't find that video clip anymore" not something to get too overwrought about.
Charlie might say "broken" over and over (getting more enervated with each utterance), or pronounce "can't find it" in arch tones of distress. I used to try to divert him, very unsuccessfully, from saying those words over and over, thinking that I would "take his mind" off those thoughts. I suspect now that I only made his worries worse: The more I tried to pull, the deeper in he sunk in a quicksand of words mixed with thoughts mixed with strong feelings.
Again, words on paper (especially words he has written) seem to have a special power for and on Charlie such that, after a few rounds of requests, he stops asking for those unfindable videos.
Except of course, last night---by merely having Charlie type into Google search rather than YouTube and click-roaming here and there---we found the videos, or at least trailers and snippets of them, on IMDB and MySpace.
At which point, alls one can say is ηυρηκα, right?