Remember that argument you had with mom/dad when you were a ball of self-centered hormonal rage? When you knew what was wrong with everything but didn’t have the platform or the desire to tell the world how wrong and stupid it was, the argument that you for sure won. The one where dad or mom finished by rage whispering;
“You know, some day you’re gonna have kids, and I am gonna laugh my balls off when that kid acts just like you. Cuz it’s GONNA happen.”
That argument, yeah. Been there?
Well cousin, for someone in my house that nightmare is coming around, and it isn’t me. Karma came over to stay at my place for a while in the form of a 30 lb. two-year-old with dirty blond hair, a tiny pooch-belly, diapered butt and a bad attitude. There is a reckoning at hand for the wife and it’s time to pony up.
It would seem that my youngest son IS my wife. He can be loud, very loud. He can be quiet, as in not responding to direct questions and/or comments. He can be dismissive. He can be defiant. He can dump a bowl of soup on the floor then stare at you blankly as if you had just taken it and done it yourself. The wife has never done that, but she’s got it in her. At this young age the boy has all of these traits.
He and the wife butt heads constantly, already and he seems to be winning the battles. His most aggressive move around the house, when dealing with his brother or the wife is to shriek, loudly. He has a hair curling scream that is piercing and will not be ignored. Typically he gets what he wants from either of those two when that is deployed. This tactic is used to usurp toys, maintain possession of toys, get the cereal bowl with Spiderman on it, get the bottle of milk with a 16th of an inch more milk in it and any other thing that his tiny mind covets.
His technique for non-compliance and passive aggressive defiance would make any Alinskyite snowflake proud. If he doesn’t want to pick up the toys, he won’t. When told to help pick up the toys he will stand wherever he happens to be and stare, blankly back at you. He will not put down any toy he may be holding, he will simply and slowly turn away from you. Never saying a word. Once that battle of wills has begun, the adult in the room will attempt to force him to pick something up by putting him in front of a toy and handing it to him. it is at that point his skeleton turns to overcooked pasta. That move is usually the winner, but there are times it isn’t, then he uses his finishing move. That is to continue to stare at the authority in the room that is giving the instructions and slowly pick up a toy, then slowly make his way to the toy box. Once at the toy box he faces the wall and does not put the toy in the box. He stands there, toy in hand, nose an inch away from the wall never making a sound. The deception is the hallmark of his genius.
My mother-in-law has seen these tactics before. She has seen the best in the business hone her craft over a lifetime and it comes as no surprise that her daughter has given rise to a talented protégé in defiance. While she has seen the moves, she is still ill-equipped to handle them and has not gained any further knowledge. She employs the nuclear option at all times;
“Fine, that’s fine. You don’t want to pick up da toys. Then they go straight in the garbage. You better tell your Mama to send you with something tomorrow because they all gonna be gone. “
She thrusts a finger towards the can for emphasis and repeats; “Garbage.”
My plan for surviving the coming years and years of fighting between them and the resulting scorched earth is to hang out at the in-laws. The house that gave rise to this behavior has withstood many battles and is now a demilitarized neutral zone. There I will sit at the kitchen table with the mother-in-law, sip rich Serbian coffee, eat cookies and smile as I watch her laugh and laugh.