It occurs to me that for the benefit of those who do not currently live out their days at the mercy of the ever-changing tyrannical whims of a maniacal despot, that I ought to explain in detail what it is like living with an almost-two year old.
First you have to know that I have no choice in the matter, I literally have to do what she asks. It’s a very basic part of this parent-child relationship. What, am I supposed to just not feed her when she’s hungry? Not give her water when she asks for it? Not carry her up the stairs every single time because she has apparently lost the ability to do so herself?
Exactly. It is my DUTY as a parent to meet her needs. And you know what? Stockholm Syndrome, is what. I happen to have grown fond of this little demon, this needy caterwauling tyrant. Would you like an example, to determine for yourself how advanced the situation is? She accidentally bit me the other day in a fit of hysterical laughter.
Do you know what I did? I asked her to say sorry and kiss it better. I INVITED HER BITING MOUTH CLOSER TO ME, AS PUNISHMENT FOR HER.
And then I hugged her and smelled her hair.
Lord god help me.
People are sometimes amazed by her manners. Olive says please and thank you on cue almost every single time without being reminded, and even sometimes where it makes zero sense at all, which is even better. I lap these compliments up like rich cream because it’s all I have right now, it’s all I have! Compliments about the behavior of an entirely separate human being currently serve as my performance review, awards ceremony, and paid vacation all in one. Bring on the accolades! I need this!
But what these lovely complimenters don’t know is that the only reason I am so strict about the manners is because it allows me to delude myself that I have any sort of control over this situation.
Guys, I am not allowed to sing or dance anymore.
I mean, I didn’t really sing or dance all that much before anyway, but now, now it is expressly forbidden and inspires great rage in the demon.
“NO Mummy sing!” she shrieks if I happen to belt out the lyrics to a song on the radio. “NOOOOO Mummy dance!” she bellows if she happens to catch me swaying my hips as I am elbow-deep in sudsy dishwater (which is at least three times a day, we don’t have a dishwasher at this house. Ha! What? Another post, oh sweet jesus another post I promise, as soon as my fingers aren’t so pruney anymore.)
So, deprived of these small joys, living in this soulless, quiet, grey place where I whisper songs to myself in secret under the noise of the shower spray, and dance silently by myself in the basement after she’s gone to sleep – in this place, the manners keep me going. They turn demands into requests, and allow me the brief delusion that I am able to choose an option other than blind obedience.
I am fooling no one.
What else? Oh, I have to carry her. Every day. “Up please, mummy!” is played on repeat at our house. She’s allergic to legs, apparently? Or walking? Or the pressure of the ground against her feet displeases her? One of her great pleasures in life is to go walking outside, except after precisely seven steps it’s “Up please, mummy!” and then a pleasant evening stroll with my daughter devolves into a slow march through the neighbourhood where I’m forced to lug a sack of squirmy sweaty potatoes yelling about fire trucks while my neighbours laugh at me from behind the curtains.
Also: I have to read to her. I know, I KNOW. I created this monster, nurtured it into the beast it is today, and can blame no one but myself for its existence. But put my child within five metres of a book and she is leaping around yelling “Deed it! Deed it!”. And I DO deed it, because we don’t have TV in these parts and I love
reading deeding and I want her to love it too. But today? Today we read the instruction book for our vehicle first aid kit? And yesterday we had to leaf through an entire issue of one of those free magazines they hand out at the grocery store about natural health products, and she made me explain every advertisement to her. It was excruciating.
(Excruciating except for the part where she pointed at the beautiful laughing blonde couple shilling macca powder and said “Mummy! And Papa too!” That was pretty cute. She’s so smart. And funny! And seriously her hair I mean her shampoo is unscented so i mean it’s just her natural awesome baby-smell, how is it even possible to smell that good I just can’t get enough.)
(Stoc!holm syndrome, I wish I knew how to quit you!)
So, to the soon-to-be-parents out there: Enjoy your freedom while it lasts. Soon (sooner than you think!) you too will be living out your days beneath the iron fist of a child wearing underpants decorated with cartoon donuts.
And for my fellow sufferers? My fellow hostages, here deep in the trenches feeding and wiping and clothing and comforting our tiny wardens? Solidarity!
(And maybe just a few moments spent hovering over them smelling their necks while they sleep! JUST A FEW. Remember: You still have your dignity.)