Vn87.1 Turtle Tactics 9/7/77
This night is the last of summer, so defined by the children’s
beginning school on the morrow. Over this summer they have gradually
become accustomed to going to bed late, and now, in order to rise early,
they should go to bed early. No one found this argument convincing.
We negotiated a compromise that the children get into pyjamas, return
for dessert (delayed by conversation with dinner guests, José and Fernando),
and then go off to bed. Robby lived up to the agreement. Miriam did not.
When given a direct order to go to bed, she went to my bed instead
of hers. I had mentioned during dinner the children’s inclination to
play turtle. Fernando tried to help. “Miriam, forward.” She did nothing.
I advised him that he had left out the carriage return. Upon his “carriage return”
Miriam complained, “You haven’t told me how far to go,”
chuckled, and popped back onto my bed. Gretchen attempted, “Forward 100,
carriage return.” With gripe “You haven’t told me how to FD100” still
in the air, I described the bug as the well-known space omission between
operation and input. Fernando was then precise: “Miriam — forward,
space, 100, carriage return.” Miriam played fair and proceeded stepwise
(and counting each step) down the length of the loft. At first we
expected 100 steps to be too few. Miriam counted 70 in the kitchen, and
at 88 gleefully announced, “Out of bounds!” as she walked into the wall
in the hallway. While so close to her bed room, she picked up her
‘security blanket’ (the air was a little chilly) and came skipping
back into the living room.
The game wore on (hide turtle under the blanket and so forth), after
a while becoming wearing, and I directed her to bed with the threat of
physical force. Miriam replied, as she has for some months now, with
the counter-threat of “I’m quitting your thesis, Daddy, I really am.”
Having thus preserved her dignity, she acquiesced to the demand that
she go to bed.
This vignette describes the way Miriam employs her knowledge of
Logo as a delaying tactic to avoid going to bed early. The ease with
which she adopts the turtle’s role in a command/execution script (using
it, of course, for her ends) shows how directly that script can represent
the actual ‘authoritarian’ portion of relations in a family. Lest
this seem mechanization obtruding into a human relationship in an un-
healthy way, remind yourself that this was to her a useful game which
permitted her to survive for a while by her wits in a situation where
her other obvious options were to submit to authority, to rebel (make
a fuss), or to wheedle from me some relaxation of the order.