Pointing the finger is a dangerous game.
In Stalin’s Russia, it didn’t matter if someone was guilty or not. If they were accused, they’d had it. It was tempting to use this power to your advantage. You, the accuser, could gain from their fate. Danger was, of course, that sooner or later someone would point the finger at you.
I accuse my son quite regularly, but in fairness, he is usually guilty. In fact he’s so used to being caught in the act of naughtiness that he often rushes to apologise to his little sister before he’s even been accused, stroking her head like she’s a kitten.
When his sister turns the tables, flailing a book around with negligent abandon and clonking him on the head, he’s incensed, not by the pain, but by the fact that I don’t reproach her for it. “She’s just a little baby.” I say.
“But she’s naughty!” He points. She blows a raspberry at him.
“Yes.” I appease him. “I suppose that was quite naughty.”
He’s ecstatic. “Yes!” He laughs. “She was very naughty.” He stomps around grinning for half an hour. “She was very, very naughty, Daddy.” He reminds me now and again. I nod. He giggles with delight.
Later, when I turn off the TV, he explodes with operatic rage and self pity. I have an inspired idea. “Look.” I say. “Your sister’s dropped her sippy-cup on the floor. That’s a bit naughty.”
He stops in his tracks. “Yes.” He nods. “She’s a bit naughty.” He smiles. He forgets his anger entirely.
When you find a way to easily control your child’s mood, you get addicted. My baby daughter has been on a crime spree. Whenever my son gets into a grump she is guilty of more appalling naughtiness. I know it’s wrong. I know I’ll regret it. I’m teaching my son to point the finger at the innocent. Soon that finger will point at me. Soon I in my turn will be denounced and sent to the Gulag.
Very soon in fact. “Naughty Daddy!” My son shouts, jabbing a finger at me. “You’re very naughty!” I suppose I’m not technically innocent. He caught me eating his toast. I’m sent off to the Gulag to make more toast.
Stupid naughty Daddy.