If I ever start my own law practice, maybe she could do collections for me. You don’t pay, she will drop her insane brother off at your office. Or make you listen to the list of every item of Hello Kitty she owns. Over, and over, and over again.
I am a lawyer. Which you wouldn’t know by my flashy yoga pants or banana smeared, reversible diaper bag/purse. But you would know if you opened my student loan statements. Now I’m not sure if my daughter is the victim of some kind of epigenetic mutation that has turned her into a genius argument-maker, or if her natural proclivity is just karmic justice for the verbal thunderstorms I’ve rained down upon my exceedingly intelligent but rather quiet engineer husband. But I do know that I have nearly met my match in her, all at the tender age of 3.5.
Edie’s ability to reason her way to the outcome she desires is stunning. A central goal in her life is to have her brother stop being annoying. I am sympathetic. He is annoying to an extreme. Eli bites, he tries to pluck her eyes out, he grabs crayons out of her hands, tries to snatch baby dolls, yells when she’s trying to talk, and has drawn blood from his horrible pinch-scratching no less than twice in the past week. It’s the worst. But guess what? He’s 14 months old. Being annoying is his modus operandi. Ain’t much we can do. Except. We can give that adorable demon baby everything he wants, save for gravely dangerous objects, in order that he doesn’t cry. And stay out of his way. So my rule is: make the screaming stop. My mantra is “I am concerned with peace. Not justice.” This, I know, is not very lawyerly. And it reallllly grates on Edie’s nerves.
Recently when we were on vacation, Edie had a dresser drawer in our shared bedroom that was all for her. I set her clothes in there neatly, so she could pick out her clothes and put away her own laundry. It was lovely. Then around day 3, brother discovers it and immediately tries to empty it. This makes Edie mad, she yells NO! and yanks his arms out. He, predictably, screams. I, predictably, say “make him stop screaming!” She protests that he’s in her stuff. I say that he’s not hurting anything. Let it go. “But mom,” she says while blinking her big eyes slowly, “he’s making a mess. And you will have to do more work to clean it up.” Touché. The child knows my Achilles heel.
Today she stepped it up by what I believe was an elaborate attempt to frame the baby. “Mom! Mom! Come look at what Eli did!” But Eli was playing happily on the couch with some stuffed animals? What was she talking about? “Look! He drawed on the wall!” “He drew on the wall. [Grammar first.] Ok. Show me.” She pulls me down the hall. And shows me this, a mark about the length of my thumbnail.
“Hmmm. That looks a little small for something Eli would draw.” Her eyes grow big. But she says evenly “No. He did it. He just held the wall with one hand and did it.” This is already compelling. Because she got the detail in about the one hand on the wall. Eli can’t stand on his own. So he would need one hand to support him. But if he made contact with a wall, would he really just do one tiny dab? Seems doubtful. Less like a crazed baby and more like a sociopathic three year old who was pressing on the boundaries of law and morality. I continue “Are you sure you didn’t do it? I’m not mad.” “No. No. Eli did it.” So it ended there. Until! She was playing at her kitchen a half hour later and I spotted a red crayon in her hand. She was pretending it was a kitchen implement. “A HA! The evidence is right there! You have the red crayon! It was you!” Edie barely looks up. “No. Eli had it and dropped it. I picked it up.” She was expecting me. But I did manage to leverage her guilt just a bit, and I said “why don’t you go get ready for a nap now” my eyes narrowed and voice lowered. Though a moment ago she was wildly protesting a nap, this time she obliged. We both know what was happening. And then she said “You think I’m funny.” Then the veil was lifted. And she won again. Nice work, counselor.