My mother is officially getting her revenge for all of the horrible things I did through childhood and adolescence.
It has manifested in the form of a pint-sized package with a big personality and even bigger lung capacity.
I should’ve known when my daughter, Allison, got her first teeth at 2 months old that the terrible twos would come early, too.
In the past few weeks, I’ve discovered she can turn from the sweet little girl I know and love into a puddle of temper at my feet — all in the span of time it takes for me to remove the tip of the orange marker from her mouth.
Apparently drawing a picture tastes delicious.
About a year ago, Allison’s doctor asked if we had baby-proofed our house. My husband and I dutifully ticked off the precautions we had taken, knowing that our staircase, kitchen cabinets and outlets were safe.
But what apparatus prevents curious toddlers from hoisting themselves onto a chair to reach things they shouldn’t have at higher altitudes? Alluring things like the salt and pepper shakers. Or the electric toothbrush.
Unfortunately, I need to turn in the opposite direction once in awhile or perhaps devote even a small portion of my attention to necessary tasks like emptying the dishwasher. I have since learned that transferring two plates to a cabinet is an invitation to scale the kitchen table.
When she’s not testing her boundaries, arm span and gravity, she’s usually testing my patience. I tell her that throwing meatloaf is not an appropriate way to let me know she’s done with dinner, and she gives me a wry smile while tossing the chunk that was hidden in her other palm.
Then there are the dreaded incidents in public.
Last weekend, I helped host a baby shower for my friend, and by the end, she was probably wishing she had rethought the whole reproduction thing. The other mothers in attendance with babies who napped peacefully through the event must’ve left in horror after watching mine coat her entire upper body in cherry tomatoes and veggie dip.
Not to mention that the floor around her highchair looked like a well-stocked buffet.
I try to remind myself that even though she beats me in speed, energy and agility, I’m smarter than she is. Orange marker? What orange marker? Check out this BOOK!
Sometimes I call my mom in utter exasperation wondering how she ever let me live long enough to earn the right to borrow the car. At this point, I’m already contemplating withholding Allison’s driving privileges until she’s 18 solely on the grounds that meatloaf does not belong in my hair.
My mom just laughs, encourages me with longstanding adages like “this too shall pass” and tells me horror stories of my own childhood, like the time I cut my little brother’s hair right before the family portrait to commemorate my grandparents’ anniversary.
I always know instantly what she’s getting at. She’s not trying to illustrate that all kids have moments that make their parents crazy. She’s not trying to break the mood with a laugh. She’s not trying to prove that in 30 years those are the memories worth keeping.
She’s saying that someday, it’ll be my turn.
And it’s the right of every grandparent everywhere to sit back and revel in their grandchildren’s misadventures.