Brotherly Love

A childless friend recently posted on Facebook about how upset she was witnessing a toddler meltdown scene at a restaurant, and what she saw as very poor parenting decisions.

Because THAT always goes well.

I couldn’t help but join in on the full frontal assault bombardment. Just a little. Because the thing that childless people often seem to disregard is that little children are often raging assholes. They are like tiny adults in that way. In coming up with anecdotes about how the best of children can spend several years in a phase that can only be appropriately referred to as Sadistic Hellspawn, I was drawn back in time to when Tuki was small.

I hear other women bemoaning the fact that their children aren’t little any more. Like that is somehow a bad thing? Aside from it being much better than the obvious alternative (which is at the very least sad and without the services of a good taxidermist, extremely smelly and a health hazard), I tend to find any child prior to Aquinas’ Age of Reason (7ish) to be a trial at the best of times. Lamp was actually quite a good toddler, as toddlers go, which is probably the only reason he has a little sister. But Tuki… Oh, Tuki.

Tuki would be the first one to agree that crying babies/toddlers are massively annoying. She has frequently stated that she doesn’t want children, and she isn’t certain how anyone could even be a teacher. Because most kids are so stupid. I’ve explained that most people are stupid, but that adults are sometimes better at hiding it, but she remains largely unconvinced. However… between the ages of 20 mos and 3.5 years she was frequently a NIGHTMARE. Moreover she was a stubborn nightmare who ALWAYS won. If she got it in her head that she wasn’t getting her way (and that could be as simple as Mama did not see the thing she pointed to out of the car window and then refused to halt the car and back up to see it. In traffic.), she would scream as if she was drowning in hot lava, all the while glaring furiously at the offending useless parent.

The offending parent was generally me.

Now I always took her out of restaurants or other public places to do her 2+ hour tantrums out of doors, but you just haven’t lived until you have tried to physically wrestle a screaming, struggling, kicking 2.5 year old into a car seat while she screams “No! No! No!” at the top of her lungs while strangers walk by visibly wondering if they should be calling 911. Particularly if said toddler is of mixed ethnicity and therefore doesn’t quite LOOK LIKE YOU. It once took two full grown adults to force her into her car seat during a lovely drive from San Diego to San Francisco, during which she quite literally screamed through 90% of the 11 hours. We had to stop for food. All the hotels and motels were full. There were simply no options and at a certain point you just have to say, “I’ve done all I can do. I can’t do any more… Please. Call CPS. Maybe THEY can deal with her…”

Now that she is 10, Tuki is the child that other parents wish was theirs. She gets straight A’s. While most of that is natural ability, she also works hard and is utterly tenacious. Unlike her mother. At other children’s houses she is a dream. She is quiet and polite and never makes a scene. She always does as she is asked. She is always asked back. It doesn’t hurt that she is Hapa-pretty either.

Of course that is outside the home. In public. Where strangers look upon her two and a half foot long hair and huge hazel eyes and literally give her things.

Because the thing is… that Hellspawn toddler hasn’t really gone away. It lurks.

It lies in wait, and while most of its lancet sharp gaze is fixated on THE BOY, she still saves some quirks for me.

Tuki has not slept under sheets and a blanket since the age of four. She sleeps in a sleeping bag atop her always made bed amongst hundreds of stuffed animals. This works out because in the “morning” when she “gets up” she has merely to inchworm her way about the house without leaving the cozy confines. I understand this completely. I did the same thing myself as a child for several years. I have been known even now, on cold winter nights to get into a sleeping bag and hop, Lowli Worm-like, from place to place rather than brave the elements of the inside of our apartment. The issue we had lay in the fact that on early mornings (which in our family is defined as anything before 10:30 am), I was expected to carry her from her bed to the living room couch for breakfast. If I did NOT do so, the resultant whining/moaning/glaring/tears could easily take up the allotted getting-ready-for-school-hour. I know it is my fault for caving, but she was pretty small and I told myself I needed the exercise. I did warn her, though, that her 10th birthday would be the very last time she was going to be carried. So now every morning it is the whiny inchworm.

We are not morning people.

Now Lamp does not sleep in a sleeping bag. Since I have chosen to respect the boundaries of his 14 year old’s bedroom I am not entirely sure how he sleeps, but it seems to be in a sort of nest or random blankets, laundry, and old kleenex. And possibly chewed up insulation. I’m not really sure. I only go in there to collect laundry, and I try to do so quickly with a minimum of eye contact with anything in the room. It is best for my mental health that way, and most likely for Public Health as well.

Whereas I view my newly acquired teenager with bemused anthropologic interest, Tuki is simply having none of it. As far as she is concerned everything he does is annoying. The music he listens to is annoying, and the way he listens to it is annoying. The fact that he is scatterbrained is annoying, yet somehow utterly satisfying for her. It allows her to revel in her sense of superiority. The fact that the bank was willing to let us open a checking account in his name with a debit card (so he could buy his own lunches), yet would not give her one because she does not meet their cut-off age of 13 nearly sent her into apoplexy. When he then lost that debit card during his first week of high school, she spent the rest of the day alternately ranting about how stupid banks are that they can’t understand the concept of who is RESPONSIBLE and who isn’t… and simply gloating.

She has outgrown trying to get me to say I love her best, but she still takes glee in highlighting the ways in which she and I are similar. We both live on tea and prefer coffee ice cream. Lamp likes neither of these things. That he and I share similar musical tastes is a frustration to her, especially since I won’t take her side when he ALWAYS plays either The Arctic Monkeys or Wilco in the car. The fact that I actually enjoy both of these bands frustrates her to no end. When she was three she decided that girls love their mamas and boys love their daddies and that is THAT.

Lamp, to his credit, generally ignores her. I think he misses a lot of it completely due to headphones, but he often surprises me at how much he notices when I think he is being oblivious.

A few weeks back Tuki and I were engaging in one of our more frequent battles. She still refuses to dry herself after a shower. She stands there, dripping wet, with a towel wrapped haphazardly around her and WHINES about how she is COLD and she is going to die. I do understand that all that hair is hard to dry, but she won’t even move the towel enough to use it to dry off because then she will be TOO COLD. And she can’t let go of her death grip on it in order to get another towel to dry off with, because it might fall and then she will freeze to death in our 70F apartment. I’ve explained to her that I refuse to dry off a daughter who is starting to grow boobs for fucksake, so her latest thing is to insist that she be allowed to “evaporate”.

No amount of explaining the process of thermodynamics will convince her that this will make her colder. So after every shower we have to endure at least half an hour of towel swaddled, dripping, whining evaporation before she will go put on pajamas. One night, after appearing to ignore this completely, Lamp remarked to me after she had left the room,

“Someday she is going to make some guy a really AWFUL girlfriend.”

Mamas CAN love their boys.

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One Response to “Brotherly Love”

  1. It is okay though, that boyfriend will be so thrilled to have a girlfriend so pretty, he won’t mind and she will be forever spoiled. The good thing is that she will no longer be your problem.

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