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Son proves Cosby is a parental prophet

Brain damage — every child has it.

At least that is what the comedian Bill Cosby cautioned in one of his early classic comedy routines from the early 1980s.

As a teenager back in those days, I remember rolling with uncontrollable laughter in the family dining room when I watched Cosby on television detail how there is no such thing as logic or common sense when you are a parent.

Thirty years later, I am now living Cosby’s comedy routine. There isn’t a moment when I am not on high alert because of what Cosby called brain damage.

Whenever I think we’ve crossed a threshold that might allow me to sit for a moment in a calm and peaceful house, I should really prepare myself for the unexpected — like that sudden blur in the corner of my eye Sunday morning.

Just a few weeks ago, my wife and I remarked how our son Gibson was showing signs of independence, especially playing solo without seeking a parental playmate or audience. Up until this, he required mom and dad to play with him or watch him.

Sunday morning started with him playing contentedly with his blocks and toys, leaving me a few moments to sit, read the paper, sip coffee and enjoy the cool breeze from the open front door.

Then there was the sudden blur, a rustling of paper, quick footsteps down the hallway, the sound of the back bedroom door closing and then silence.

Something was up, so I rose from my momentary lull, walked to listen to what was happening on the other side of the closed door.

I could hear the sounds of drawers opening and closing and the rustling of what sounded like candy wrappers.

When I opened the door, I found Gibson on the floor putting on his pants for Sunday School.

This was a surprise as I hadn’t asked him to get ready for church, which wasn’t going to start for another 45 minutes.

Any other time, I would have marveled at my son’s sudden ability to think ahead and remember to put on his clothes without the prodding that it usually takes to get him out the door.

If the closed doors and secret actions didn’t give it away, the slight bulge at the bottom of his pants leg sure did.

As I patted down his pant leg, Gibson looked at me hoping I wouldn’t hear the rustling of the packaging. When I reached the bottom of his pant leg and pulled out the bag of fruit-flavored snacks, he looked at me with surprise.

“Where did these come from?” I asked.

“I don’t know how they got there, daddy,” he said, as if they had been there all along without him really noticing. After all, there is no better place to find fruit-flavored snacks than in the bottom of your pant leg.

I didn’t think I would be patting my son down at 5 years old, but there I was Sunday, acting like a cop checking for contraband hidden in my son’s pant leg.

And there I was interrogating my son and trying to get into his little head to figure out what in the world he thinks he was doing.

The problem is he wasn’t thinking.

Cosby was right. It must be brain damage. The question is, “Now that I have a diagnosis, what’s the prognosis?”


Ben Hillyer is the design editor of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3540 or by e-mail at ben.hillyer@natchezdemocrat.com.