[LMB] Miles, Ekaterin and the Orb
vlecuyer at ksu.edu
Fri, 14 Nov 2003 13:46:37 -0600
Despite Tien's distance, Ekaterin does say he charms, lies, cajoles to her
any number of times to get her to stay. I would assume Tien did not
completely utterly ignore his son--but even if he did, Tien was home each
day and night after work--so his presence would be a force for the
household, for bad or good.
Just because a parent is present doesn't mean they're actually there. Tien being Tien wouldn't have actually taken notice of Nikki unless Tien wanted something or something he thought should be wassn't happening. Kids are just as manipulative as adults, just in a different way. Nikki would have learned early on to stay below his
dad's radar and discount any charm, lies or cajoling. I've got a brother and a sister-in-law (his wife) that fall into the "self-absorbed" category. They also have two kids. As it happens, I can make their kids behave better than they can. They've learned the hard way I don't bluff, and I don't cajole.
Also, one of my good friends is an adult who was raised in a household similiar to Nikki's. She made a point of staying under the radar, and gets angry with her little brother because he insists on popping up on it constantly.
Nikki could even be thrilled his dad is dead at
first, he could be crushed, he could be....something. But he's not. And yes,
he would take after his mother but given his personality *before* Tien dies,
he's not nearly emotionally closed as Ekaterin--simply because Nikki's the
one person Ekaterin *hasn't distanced herself from.
You're forgetting that Nikki bonded with Miles over the ship models. Because his mom didn't react, and this funny looking stranger/cool new guy who happens to be friends with his really cool uncle didn't react (overtly) to Tien's death, Nikki took his cue on how to act from them. Children are the ultimate mimics. It's a survival
technique left over from way, way back. Kids also internalize examples and lessons and don't share their personal views easily. They don't want to be stupid or wrong because being either one is a deep, personal embarassment. In ACC, we see more of Nikki's real character because he's not a pawn in parental mind games. It also
helps that this really cool guy who shares his toys and likes his mom wants him to share his thoughts/feelings but Doesn't Laugh At Them. Miles even approves of Nikki and his conclusions, so all is better with the world.
I guess I can't get past the fact that as presented in Komarr, Nikki seems
totally unrealistic to me and Ekaterin a lousy mom. It's different in CC,
much better, and I'm glad I read that book first, as I said. I adore the
Vorkosigan-verse and I worship at the feet of Lois' incredible talent.
I've been introduced to a number of children of various different ages in various different social occasions. Nikki was spot on in all his reactions. Kids don't react like an adult would. Most 8-12 year old children in real life, are cautious around strange new people--especially the ones their parents/family introduce them
to. They don't let their personality show for fear this new authority figure will laugh at them or use their actions as a reason to reject them. This is with children who have a stable home life and haven't moved once in their entire life. Nikki was in an unstable home with one non-attendant parent, and moved around a lot.
Caution around / fear of strangers was probably the very first thing he learned--first from his peers and then from his parents.
Kids watch how you jump, and then they follow along, even if they don't understand why you're doing what you do.
 One of my nieces, H, who is very self-confident and outgoing (and from a stable home with 2 fully attendant parents) was hesitant about approaching my friend, Looney. . H., 10 years old at the time, was very diffident around Looney. She asked me, rather earnestly in a private conversation, if Looney would play with her and
her little brother. She didn't want to ask Looney directly and be refused.
 Looney is a nickname my friend answers to. She couldn't believe 1) I had a family that large and 2) that we all got along. Her family is very disfunctional, so I took her home to let her experience mine. There were several "deer in the headlight" looks from Looney due to stage fright throughout the weekend, but she survived
and even came back later.