Today as I started dinner I felt a repressive, smoldering rage at my son, fifteen months old as of 1 AM this morning. It’s a damn good thing he has a father who came home and took custody of his sweet, dimpled little ass so that I could just fantasize about whacking him, instead of actually doing it.
The first indicator of his mood was this morning’s walk to the library as he insisted on tearing his hat off, over and over and over, while I was forced to bend over while pushing him one-handed, balancing my mocha (no snide remarks) and swatting at him, “No, Nels!” Goddamn it, he was going to keep his lid on. Hats are one of those things I am proud to say as a Mommy I *always* enforce. Please note, when you are proud of something you enforce as a Mommy you are destined to then immediately give birth to a child who will inevitably pick that particular battle and gradually force you into caving in with a whimper and the realization you are a total loser for even thinking you could make a single, solitary rule for your family.
The list goes on. Throwing magazines at the library. Throwing food at home. Fussy, clingy, won’t sleep. Screams when he wants a bite of whatever anyone else is eating. Cries hysterically from a few drops of rain – this from a boy who yesterday fell in the bathtub with a huge THUMP and spent five seconds entirely submerged, without complaint – as I take my daughter to the Farmer’s Market outing; my one promise to her today. At the Goodwill, thrashes his sister’s book with grubby hands while I’m reading to her. Michelle gives me a backrub and a kiss and tells me to relax, that he will be 20 before I know it, and I know she’s right, and I still feel like crying. Finally, at dinner, the coup de grÃ¢ce: will not eat, and won’t stop screeching, unless I hold him in my arms the entire meal.
So today my daughter was my favorite, hands down. She napped when I asked her to, helped feed her brother, took his hand at the library, washed her hands when I asked. Got dressed in rain boots and stomped in the water like a good girl should, bore the abbreviated uptown trip with good humor. In the moments where the Evil One is fitfully napping, I stroke Sophie’s hair indulgently, forgetting whatever murderous rage she put me into two days ago. This seeming inconsistency is because you, reader, aren’t a parent of >1 children so thusly don’t realize the coveted position of “Favorite Child” is a constantly oscillating title that both kids vie for by quickly scoping out the nastiness of the other child and how close Mommy is to drowning them, or herself, in the bathtub. Of course on some days they both seem to say, “Fuck it!” and proceed to bust my balls with all they’ve got. Those are the days I *really* wish I could embrace alcoholism as a coping mechanism. I still drink, of course. I just feel bad about it later.
An addendum to the “Favorite Child” trap is that years down the road you will hear them complain and go on at length about who was Mom’s favorite and who was Dad’s and just how disappointed you were in them that they didn’t do this or that… meanwhile from about Day 4 they have been playing the game and I swear to God, planning it in whispers from the crib as soon as they share a room!
On a lighter note, this and this are pretty funny. If I wasn’t married and didn’t have an irrational fear / distrust / disgust of New Yorkers (especially hirsute ones) in general* – I might be in love with Todd Levin.
* Oh yeah, and if my brother hadn’t found him first.