A cursory reading of the catalog reminds us that one of Lynn's favorite themes is to show us the children totally missing the point of what the parents are trying to say. This tendency of the kids to stare goggle-eyed because they have no idea what John and Elly are trying to tell them is almost reassuring in how often it reappears; too bad that it's accompanied by the belief on Lynn's part that the children are being deliberately obstructive. The facts, however, prove otherwise. To begin with, Elly fails to communicate because she not only makes the dubious assumption that her children know things they don't, she doesn't know how to express herself in a manner her children can understand. We've seen that she wasted most of her life being pointlessly upset because John cannot read her mind so it should be obvious that she thinks her children are trying to ruin her life by claiming to not know what she does; the idea that they can't do so is not one that would spontaneously occur. This inability to view things from another perspective shines through in the way she expresses herself; instead of telling her children what she wants of them in language they can understand, she does so in a way that only she can. John's failure stems not only from the same assumption that his children know what's bothering him but also his default assumption that they're uncontrollable hellions put on this Earth to disrespect him; since he's an idiotic narcissist who won't admit that he's in the wrong, he can't wrap his pea brain around the concept "self-fulfilling prophecy." I remember reading the Halloween 1981 strip in which he ordered Mike to put away his candy and misinterpreted his son's blank-eyed confusion and asking him why he was supposed to do it with defiance; this led to a rather ugly scene in which he bellowed at his son and whined piteously that it was harder than ever to get in the last word. This speaks to certain unflattering truths about the man with the train fetish.:
- He has anger management issues; a man who wasn't a burning ball of hate would have handled that better.
- He has an authoritarian streak to go with the yellow one that's down his spine; he'd rather bark orders and insist on immediate obedience than have to lower himself by explaining things to children.
- He's a humorless dick who fears being outed as the ridiculous pissant he'd know he is if he were at all honest with himself.
- He's a whiny little fool who wants us to pity him because he doesn't get his own way all the time.
The revolting stew of negative characteristics that leads him to offer violence to children who make points that come close to making him realize how big and worthless a jackass he is as a father is the reason that he makes the otherwise baffling comment about how Lizzie turned into a real little girl; simply put, he likes it that she's a passive lump that will do whatever it is that he commands without harshing his mellow with anything approaching her own opinion. This means that he had a different reason to bliss out when she put a teal and lavender bow on her enslavement to sentimentalism and parental fealty and the death of her dreams. There are two things that convert this into an almost Lovecraftian horror. First, as I said earlier, the Pattersons won't admit that they're bad parents so they blame their children for their pathetic failure to get their point across. Second, since they were raised to not value open and honest communication, adult Mike and Liz themselves cannot speak to children without making a total mess of things. What's more, they blame the children luckless enough to be in their presence for their idiocy and selfishness.