Other Anxieties

11:40AM June 4th 2011 CMT, BGKY

Mac got a thin let­ter from his kinder­garten-school fist pick. I sud­den­ly got anx­ious and ner­vous, warp­ing back some 22 years ago to stom­ach-crush­ing anx­i­ety.

Turns out it wasn’t a sin­gle-page let­ter thank­ing him for apply­ing and wish­ing him well in his future endeav­ors.

Instead there was a sec­ond let­ter stat­ing what his tuition bill would be for the year and the expec­ta­tion and require­ments. Strange­ly, I got a thrill about this.

The disciplin(ing) of Scarlett

8:01 pm CMT june 3rd BGKY

Scar­lett at three.

We are in the ter­ri­fy­ing threes. Not just ter­ri­ble but ter­ri­fy­ing. Where­as Mac will use all sorts of rhetor­i­cal tricks and tropes to whee­dle out of pun­ish­ments and sanc­tions, Mac will at least play by the rules that every­one has agreed to. But Scar­lett… Scar­lett is doing some­thing we are hav­ing a hard time try­ing to fig­ure out how to react to, let alone coun­ter­mand. It was like she was all sweet­ness and good dur­ing her first two years in order to get us to drop our guard, get com­pla­cent, fall asleep at the switch, and allow her to take over sig­nif­i­cant por­tions of our men­tal map before we could form an allied response.

Exam­ples: You threat­en her with a smack-bot­tom1 and she tells you go ahead, do your best. You tell her she will lose her toys, she responds she didn’t want them in the first place. You give her a direct order and she will look back with sparkling eyes and ever-widen­ing smile, stand­ing there, dar­ing you to for­get she is just three-years old and not some recidi­vist hooli­gan.

Recent­ly, we had an event that crys­tal­lized the dilem­ma and sig­naled that she was going on the full offen­sive. For a few months now, Scar­lett has been pee­ing in her pants again. She will stand there in the mid­dle of the room and uri­nate down her leg onto the car­pet. We’ve had to put her back in dia­pers which she did not, of course, refuse. So this past week, Jenn is watch­ing Scar­lett start to squirm again and exhorts Scar­lett to use the toi­let like a big girl and that she had bet­ter run over to the bath­room to pee and instead Scar­lett runs up to Jenn and pro­ceeds to uri­nate, form­ing a large, warm pud­dle right in front of Jenn’s chair. Jenn is aghast at her behav­ior and tells Scar­lett not to step into the pee and then it hap­pens: Scar­lett looks down at the pud­dle and then cocks her head back up and dead-eyes Jenn while she pro­ceeds to put her right foot direct­ly into the mid­dle of the pud­dle and turn her ankle in and out as if rub­bing out the butt of a cig­a­rette she has just tak­en her last drag off and flicked into the dirt, rub­bing with slow, delib­er­ate mal­ice2 with the heel of her steal-toed boot, while slow­ly expelling smoke direct­ly into Jenn’s eyes and chan­nel­ing the leather-clad Sandy and her new­ly-found moxy at the end of Grease. There was a moment of stunned silence. The rest I can’t report because this is a pub­lic post, lest to say, we know we are in trou­ble.


After much thought, I real­ized we are in a pick­le. Like I said with Mac, it is pret­ty sim­ple to stick to your guns and not let him con­vince you to give in, but with Scar­lett, you have no car­rot, no com­mon goal. What she is doing is negating/​denying your pre­sup­po­si­tions and remov­ing the very base on which you stand. It is a rad­i­cal skep­ti­cism that leaves noth­ing unques­tioned, noth­ing tru­ly know­able, and chal­lenges con­vic­tions at their core. Sud­den­ly you won­der if the total­i­tar­i­an­ists weren’t right after all.

Although I got­ta tell you anoth­er part me ana­lyzes the sit­u­a­tion and say: “She adapts to any sit­u­a­tion and is bone head­ed stub­born… Learned well, she has, this young padawan.”

  1. Yes, I know we are also against copo­ral pun­ished but like Neville Cham­ber­lain learned, appease­ment only works for so long. []
  2. well, as much mal­ice as a three year old can muster []

Inevitably, it had to happen

that at 5’ish in the morn­ing I felt a steady, unyeild­ing pres­sure at my back caus­ing me to roll out of bed won­der­ing just what was hap­pen­ing, only to find Scar­lett and Mac, com­fort­ably spread out, snooz­ing unper­turbed­ly. I stum­ble down­stairs to find Jenn sip­ping cof­fee and look­ing back in dis­be­lief that our bed has been word­less­ly and silent­ly co-opt­ed in a night-time oper­a­tion wor­thy of Team 6.

sun­day 1:29pm cmt bgky