Eva has a new mantra for 2015,“It’s not fair!”
I am not sure what gave rise to her newfound acuity of what is proper and deserving and right but it is emerging alongside the equally important skills of empathy and manipulation. This understanding of equality is as fundamental in humans as it is in dogs. Dachshunds particularly have an almost sixth sense for when one is given a bigger treat than the other, or when one was greeted before the other, or petted for a fraction of a second longer, an imperceptible injustice, which dissolves into an all out war, a forced reconciliation after battle, and eventually exile. I am reminded now reminiscing about Piccolo and Piglet’s well hewn warpath that dogs are believed to have intelligence equal to the average three year old and this fills me with dread for Eva’s year ahead. My experience with warring dogs is a powerful argument for not giving Eva a sibling as life is at its worst when every child at nursery or home wants a turn on the same metaphorical yellow swing at the same time.
The yellow swing is about all I hear about every day when I pick Eva up from nursery. Rogan or Ethan, or Sadie wouldn’t let me have a turn on the yellow swing. And the worst part is I am currently mother to at least three children with the mental age of three ( Eva, Piccolo and Piglet (in exile)) but back to that yellow swing:
“I am sure they did let you have a turn.”
“It wasn’t long enough.”
I pause unsure of my answer and manage to muster,
“It was long enough, it just didn’t SEEM long enough to you.”
I flounder as I am not sure how to raise a child who is to the power of ten times more impatient than the average three year old. All parents say this I am sure, but they haven’t met Eva. Her rage at not getting what she wants is only as powerful as her resolute will to never admit she is wrong.
The other day Eva hit Piccolo and I with a plastic stick that came off one of her Christmas presents.
“Eva please apologize to Mommy and Piccolo.”
“I insist Eva”
“no, NO, Na, Na, NO.” sung to the beat of a Beyonce song. The Diva has arrived.
“You will have to sit on the naughty step.”
I pick her up and put her on the bottom step of the stairs. She cries for forty minutes, every ten minutes I ask her,
“Are you ready to apologize to Mommy?”
Every ten minutes for forty minutes.
Eventually I asked her father to convince her to apologize. He took her off the naughty step without my permission, wrapped her in a blanket and finally ten minutes later, a whisper as loud as it was meaningful eked out,
“I am sorry Mommy.”
“Apology accepted.” I whispered back, arms crossed.
“Now get ready for bed.” No wonder I am the least favorite parent. I put her on the naughty step, Daddy whisks her off, he feeds her chocolate, I make her go to bed. He devises treasure hunts, I wash her ears out, he carries her around the house on his back, I spend most of my waking time following her from room to room plucking her off furniture like a baby monkey, a simile she enjoys bringing to life. I turn the TV off. Daddy turns it on.
Now that she can count it has infiltrated her logic of equity, her comprehensions and assessments of what is fair. About a week before her birthday she started saying that because she was two she should be allowed to watch two cartoons before bed, as that was only fair because she was two.
“Okay that sounds reasonable.” I said not willing to argue the merits of one cartoon, and only one cartoon.
Then Eva more than one step ahead of me as usual added,
“And when I am three I get three cartoons before bed because, I am three!”
“Okay, three cartoons before bed.”
Eva gives me a look as if she was thinking, “Fantastic she bought it.”
Noticing that Mommy’s energy has been flagging lately she has started to use her newest skills of argument, reason and toddler justice to give voice to her most base desires.
When we get home from school, she opens the fridge, “I want chocolate.”
“No chocolate before dinner.”
“That’s not fair.”
“Yes it is!”
Eva bursts into a fit of tears like I had made up a new rule to prevent her from getting what she wants, to eternally get in her way like only mothers can do.
“Eva, no chocolate before dinner has always been a rule and it should never be questioned.”
“It’s not fair, you never said I couldn’t have chocolate.”
“You never asked before dinner.”
“Anarchy” I murmur under my breath.
For Eva the stretch between getting home and finishing dinner is enough of an eternity and so I have discovered that the upside of an impatient child is that she has forgotten about chocolate by the time her deserving hour arrives.
Eva’s other daily habits are also evolving as she grows into her year of being three, or as a blogger wrote the other day her year of becoming a “ Threenager”. Eva is now scared of the dark and calls for mommy to come and take her to the potty at all hours, which I do of course and then lead her back into bed, tuck her in and kiss her goodnight for the umpteenth time. To my amazement these midnight potty trips have meant her diaper is dry in the morning and I am beginning to dream of never having to buy a diapers again until I need Depends.
Eva has always liked to hold my hand while using the potty especially when she has a bowel movement. I guess it gives her fortitude. Now that she is three, she prefers the back of her toddler chair, which I have to move in front of her when she is expecting a movement. Her blue chair is a symbol of independence at last. She holds on to the back of the chair and grunts away reminding me of my Lamaze class. She is very territorial about her blue chair and over the last few days she has been greatly offended by her father. I am relieved it is for once not me who is guilty of such offence.
“Last day, Daddy bit my fingers, these three fingers right here, AND he put HIS shoes on MY blue chair, his shoes on my blue chair!”
She says this with great expectation wondering when I will put Daddy on the naughty step. If Daddy is going on the naughty step it will be for a host of other reasons, not for putting his shoes on Eva’s blue chair but in her world and especially within her potty moments, it is all about the blue chair.
The other day her Daddy and I were discussing his new job and I said, “You will have to play the bad guy at work.”
Eva was shocked, and repeated for days to come, “You called Daddy a bad guy, Daddy is not a bad guy. Mommy you said Daddy was a bad guy.”
“I meant he should pretend to be a bad guy like when he pretends to be a monster.”
At some point Eva is going to wonder why she is the only one that ever has to sit on the naughty step. I am sure Daddy would like to put mommy on the naughty step for my offences against husband-kind: burning the potatoes, leaving the washing in the washing machine, never making the bed, earning too many sky miles on the visa card.
Eva’s other new and disturbing habit is that every night when we are laying in her big girl bed reading stories, she asks, “Mommy can I lay on your boobies?”
“Why do you want to lay there?”
“Because they are soft.”
“Okay put your head right here” I said patting my right breast.
“Mommy you have big boobies, can I touch them?”
“Yes.” I say half disappointed that I cannot for my life recall the last time anyone said anything that romantic to me.
With a wicked smile, Eva does her best belly flop from an upright standing position landing splat on top of my chest, winding me with a WWE Banzai drop.
“Owww, why did you do that, you are hurting Mommy.”
“I want somewhere to rest my belly.”
“Okay, just be gentle.”
Every night I do my best to get through reading her bedtime stories. It’s hard to keep my eyes on the page, while recovering from the nightly Banzai drops, trying to eek out, “Mary had a little lamb, little lamb” while being held in a chest lock.
Last night. I tried to convince Eva to assume another position.
“No, I like it that way.”
“Mommy doesn’t like it, it is uncomfortable.”
“But that’s not fair.”
I could hear my mother in my head,
“Life’s not fair,” but I know better than to say that to my three year old. Instead, I sucked it up and remained in the chest lock for yet another night. The moral, life’s not fair, is perhaps a better lesson imparted on the mother than the daughter.
Year three has already brought many new questions and some tough ones too. Since Eva overheard the headline breaking that Teresa Giudice and her husband of Housewife fame were going to jail she has been asking me,
“Mommy, What is Guilty?”
She hasn’t bought my most recent, explanation:
“Guilty is when someone does something that is not fair, and they are punished like the naughty step, or when Daddy yells at Mommy, and then there is jail too when you are really bad, or when you don’t wear your car seat straps.”
This week’s big toddler probing into the mysteries of life question is,
“Mommy what is Ebay?”
“It’s a place to sell things you don’t want.”
“You mean like Piccolo?”
“We aren’t selling Piccolo.”
“What about Daddy?”
“No we can’t sell Daddy.”
“But he bit my three fingers and put his shoes on my blue chair.”
“Life isn’t fair.” I thought.
Last night I finally finished rereading Peter Pan. It was one of my new years resolutions (2014 not 2015.) I laughed when I came across this passage about a child’s First Unfairness, it reminded me so much of Eva.
“Quick as thought Peter snatched a knife from Hook’s belt and was about to drive it home, when he saw that he was higher up on the rock than his foe. It would not have been fighting fair. He gave the pirate a hand to help him up. It was then that Hook bit him.
Not the pain of this but its unfairness was what dazed Peter. It made him quite helpless. He could only stare, horrified. Every child is affected thus the first time he is treated unfairly. All he thinks he has a right to when he comes to you and yours is fairness. After you have been unfair to him he will love you again, but will never afterwards be quite the same boy. ( or girl) No one ever gets over the first unfairness; no one except Peter. He often met it, but he always forgot it. I suppose that was the real difference between him and all the rest. “
Eva’s Daddy has a few more chocolate coin treasure hunts in his future to make up for putting his shoes on Eva’s blue chair, Mommy will forever be the one who wouldn’t let her have chocolate before dinner, and her friends will never be forgiven for not letting her have a longer turn on the yellow swing but amidst all of this inequity Eva still loves us and we love her back from the prone, clearly unequivalent position beneath a Banzai drop.
Xx Derelict Mom