i don’t remember my mom or dad smiling much about the things i did wrong as a kid. why, then, are greg and i finding it so hard to keep a straight face as we dole out “time-outs” for misdeeds? maybe it’s because she is at a rare and fleeting phase where her annoyingness is matched by her cuteness. i guess we should just do what we do at every stage of her life and enjoy it, or bear it, while it lasts. what else can you do?
a few days ago, greg and i were sitting on the couch together in the morning, and ruth walked into the room pushing her stroller with a stuffed animal in it. now, i dunno if greg looked at her wrong or what, but suddenly, she was furious with him, slammed her stroller down onto the floor and said, “i don’t like you, dad!” or something of that nature, stomped over to him as he sat there stunned, took his wrist which had been resting on his leg and shook it as hard as she could so that the water he was holding spilled out all over his lap and then said, in a voice as snotty as you like, i dunno where she gets it, “there! now you have to go and change your clothes!” i mean, you try and look serious in that situation. it’s just too damn funny. too damn cute. “time out, now,” i said through a smile. greg and i looked at each other and both started cracking up. we’re not supposed to do this, i thought, talk about mixed messages. but we couldn’t help it. plus, who can resist a good laugh when it presents itself?
now, i dunno about your kids, but mine gets m&ms simply for sitting on the potty for a full minute. listen, i established the rule in the days that even getting that from her was a huge success. outdated laws. see? this is why the constitution is amendable. if it wasn’t, there would still be slavery and everyone would be consuming far too many m&ms than is healthy. like ruth. she knows how to play the system and will sit for three minutes to get fifteen m&ms (ok, i already said i need to change the rule. you don’t have to crucify me. geez). anyways, i’m still a good parent because after fifteen, i put a cap on. plus, i make her count them out herself. good math skills! when i’m hovering over her, watching, she slowly counts each one out. however, i’ve made the mistake before of turning my back to straighten some books or something, only to look back and realize that she dumped the whole bag out and was shoving handfuls into her mouth as fast as she could. once, when greg was there, he said afterwards, “i saw her eyes when she was doing it and she had this crazed look!” ok, clearly i’m raising a sugar addict. “no, ruth! that’s cheating, plus way too much sugar!” i said, trying to sound angry as i snatched the bag away. but, again, i couldn’t hide the fact that i found the entire situation highly amusing. i don’t even wanna know what tools of manipulation ruth is gleaning from these instances. “if i’m bad, but i put a funny spin on it, i can get away with pretty much anything.”
a month or so ago, when we were getting a real snowfall, the kind that actually accumulates on the ground, my mom and in-laws were over for dinner. at one point, ruth got the idea in her head to go outside and trudge around, which i, at first, resisted, not wanting to leave my company and go out in the cold myself. plus, it was dark. plus, she usually lasts no more than a few seconds outside on cold days before she starts screaming that she’s too cold and then wants to come back in. “no, ruth,” i said, “it’s dark outside, plus it’s freezing cold and the middle of winter!” well, she didn’t like to hear that and quickly retorted back, “no, it’s summertime!” in what i swear was the tone of a thirteen year old. she ignored me and kept getting ready. this one was actually much less funny at the time and i didn’t have to suppress any grinning, especially in front of company, but in retrospect, greg and i laugh about it and especially how fast her comeback was. if she’s like this at three, i shudder to think about when she actually is thirteen.
but, like i said, i try to just enjoy what i’ve got while i’ve got it. as three approaches, she has a whole new way of interpreting the world and yes, it can be annoying. but it’s also damn cute.