Posted by Duff

The other evening, I was washing dishes as Atticus dozed in his bouncy seat when my husband came in the front door, stomped into the kitchen and rummaged in a drawer for a bottle opener.

“If you want to get bossed around,” he said from inside the fridge, “Go outside.” He emerged with a long-necked green bottle and headed back out the door.

I looked out the window to see The Dervish sitting in the driver’s seat of our beater car, looking impatient. No, we don’t leave her alone outside typically, and no, she didn’t have keys.

Atticus snored lightly from his seat. I planted a grateful kiss on his head, mentally thanking him for taking it easy on us now that we’ve figured out, for the moment, what makes him tick.

I think back to when I found out I was pregnant with him, how thrilled we  were that our children would be about three years apart in age, and how we mistakenly thought three would be much different than it has in the past two weeks (which, coincidentally, is the amount of time  that The Dervish has been three).

We thought:

Three. Great! She’ll be potty trained. (No, she won’t, and she will be diametrically opposed to the concept). Instead, we’ll need three types of diapers: regular, overnight, and pull up. She also steals Atticus’ diapers for her dolls, declares them dirty, throws them away when I’m occupied with her brother, and goes back for more.

Since these things don’t grow on trees, Atticus’ room has a child-proof doorknob.

Great, her communication skills will be even better, she’ll tell us stories, she’ll tell us what ails her. Not quite. The venom spewed forth by The Dervish could melt a car frame. She makes up stories, yes, but often they are untruthful accounts of things that have happened to her – accusatory things that we have NOT done to her. Fibs about things said to her. Lies, all lies. If you take her at her word, it’s kangaroo court. We haven’t got a chance.

Forget about her telling us what’s wrong or how we can fix it. Somehow, the child who constantly wishes to express herself clams up if it means she might actually have to stop whining about that which displeases her.

It’s like she wants to be angry. She seeks out frustrating activities, engages in them, and then screams, punches, kicks, and gnashes her teeth. I bought an entire catalog of books focusing on preschooler anger management and can only imagine that the patronizing tone of these gems sounds, to her, like nails on a chalkboard.

I have to admit, I enjoy the retribution. The whining I’m supposed to ignore is causing me actual physical pain.

We thought she’d be helpful. And I have to admit, when she’s in the mood to be my assistant, she makes a damn good one. She’ll bring me things while I feed Atticus, would prefer to wash his bottles if I’d let her, and even popped a bottle into his baby bird beak one evening while I was making her a snack.

So, I know her intentions are good. She has told me she loves her brother, and she recently sang Happy Birthday Dear Mommy with such sincerity and genuine excitement for me that I can’t really believe her sole intention is to suck the life out of me and leave my empty husk on the pavement.

Although… she does shriek in horror if the sun shines on her face and has never eaten anything containing garlic.

I think it’s time for this Agnostic to brandish a crucifix.