My Fresh Hell
Life in Scribbletown.

Heavenly Creatures!

2006-09-21

The mystery deepens. The mystery of children. Who are these creatures? Where do they come from? How do they spring from one’s loins wired, from day one, in such a way that you simply can never assume, never understand completely?

When I picked up Red from daycare yesterday, her teacher, tired and pregnant, sighed, “I wish they were all like her!”

Wha--? Are we talking about the same child here? My child? My fiery, tantrum-ridden, stubborn devil child? The child who pulls chunks of her sister’s hair out of her head for absolutely no reason? The child that suffers through yet another time-out in her crib because she loses her shit when a grain of rice gets stuck to the black bean she suddenly can’t eat because its skin split during the cooking process and the world is coming to an end?

That child?

“She is so good. Never cries or whines. She’s always happy,” her teacher tells me.

“Really? How come I get all the bad behavior?” I wondered aloud.

I told my husband this at dinner and he said, “Clearly, they both thrive in institutional settings.”

“So,” I said, “Perhaps I can just send her to an institution.”

And I had a brief vision of a scene from The Simpsons where Maggie is sent to some Ayn Rand-type baby institution to live. Lisa and Bart go to rescue her and try to find her amid a sea of other babies, all sucking away on their pacifiers. Is that what calms Red? Being among other members of Scribbletown?

I’ve read plenty of theories on this kind of behavior, both during graduate school and when I was expecting Dusty. It was understood by the “professionals” that children often “act out” with those they trust the most, namely their parents.

Well, that may be but I don’t think that’s the whole story. I am fascinated by news stories on brain research. If I’d been a super smart person with one of those science-understanding brains, I’d have liked to have gone into brain research. I think the key to most everything lies (lays?) within all that gray squiggly matter.

Because clearly you can create a being inside your body, allow it to be born, keep it alive (which, let me tell you is saying a lot at certain times, like the weeks of colic in which the two of you were holed up in a walk-in closet night after night to keep from waking up the Good Child), present it with opportunities to grow its brain, love it, kiss it, hug it. And still, you cannot begin to fathom who this little person is.

Because I thought I had Red pegged. I thought what I saw was what everybody got.

And I am dead wrong.

Dusty becomes shy around others. Just as she refused most Saturdays to read to dogs this summer, she’s not willing to read aloud to her teacher (who has found other strategies to determine how well she can read – gold stars to her!). Red is a completely different person when she is not around me (guilty fear: Maybe it’s me! Maybe we’re a toxic mixture!). She is compliant, happy (though she does say, “Go ‘way!” to her toddler companions), and willing to toe the line at school. At home, she whines and flails and LOSES IT when I do not fill the bowl with oatios fast enough. Maybe it is me. I don’t know.

All I know is, I really don’t have a clue who these people are who live in my house. Who I’ve known since before day one. These creatures who somersaulted inside me, kicked the shit out of my ribs all day long, gave me heart burn and hemmoroids; they are strangers.

But I love them anyway. What choice do I have?

P.S. I've added a slew of new photos to flickr including Dusty mounting the school bus on School Day #1.

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9:47 a.m. ::
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