Be thankful I’ve had two days to cool down. Sunday night I got to experience the very worst my daughter had to give, a tempest of three-year-old energy, angst, and bad manners that would make even Mary Poppins use four-letter words and reach for the hip flask. I have my theories about the cause of this breakdown. Theory 1: she didn’t have lunch on Sunday and got up from her nap and didn’t want anything to eat. Low blood sugar was countered at dinnertime with bread and a cheese sandwich, which led to high blood sugar. Theory 2: she is three and sometimes just acts out. Theory 3: she got into the sherry on the wine rack and was rip-roaring drunk by dinnertime.
Before I get carried away I’ll show you a picture of her painting on Sunday morning, looking angelic and basically in control of her facilities. Cute, no?
Fast-forward to 4:30 pm Sunday. She was allowed to watch the end of Disney’s Alice in Wonderland, a movie that’s so overtly drug-induced that you’ll cling onto the arm of the couch to keep the vertigo at bay. As a treat we watched a couple trailers for Tangled, her current movie du jour. Then began our descent into madness. Tears and temper tantrums punctuated the end of video watching, reminding my wife and I that kids + television – television = meltdown. So we decided to go out to dinner, rewarding us all for our hard work in the garden and house all weekend. Did Toddler Harbat sit quietly and color while we waited for our food to be brought out? Amazing fact: yes she did. She asked me approximately four thousand times for more bread, to which I replied she could have bread once her soup came out. Did she try even a spoonful of soup? Un-amazing fact: no. So she ate part of a grilled cheese sandwich, a menu item that restaurateurs think is the only food children eat aside from chicken fingers. Then she squirmed until I asked if she needed to be escorted to the bathroom. Once inside a stall I asked her if she’d peed in her pants. “Yep,” said with a happy shrug of the shoulders. So I changed her bottom half, but not before she sat her wet butt on the dirty floor, kicked her shoes off, threw the wet underwear across the stall…hold on. Let’s look at another picture of her painting, I feel a vein throbbing in my forehead.
There. See, she can be a cute little girl. But back to dinner. Once we returned from the loo, she began a dizzying spiral that’s familiar to those who deal with bad drunks: happy to sad to loopy to lovey-dovey to outrageous to kicking/biting wolverine back to sad to staggering, all in the space of ten minutes. By the end of dinner she was licking the table, yelling, throwing to-go Styrofoam containers on the floor, but wait! There’s more! We needed to run into the grocery store next door to get milk. I tried carrying her but it was like stuffing a cat into a washbasin: all claws, legs, and obstinacy. She ran down aisles grabbing things off shelves, staggered into strangers, and refusing any kind of direction. I’ve been with people like this after they’ve had twenty beers and think playing the out-of-control fool makes them THE LIFE OF THE PARTY! WOO-HOOOOO! By the time we got to the checkout I’d wrestled her roughly on my shoulders and the cashier said with raised eyebrows, “They can be challenging, can’t they?”
Lady, you say challenging and you mean bratty. By this point I wanted to gently put my daughter down and run quickly through a plate glass window. But instead I got her in the car and we drove home. Phew! Do you think she was done? Non-surprising answer: no. My wife somehow got her pajamas on and got a toothbrush in or near her mouth, then she was put to bed. I went in to check on her twenty minutes later and she was sitting up in her bed, in the dark, reading a book.
“Excuse me, it’s time to go to sleep.”
“No, I’m reading.”
“Actually it’s time to…no. Whatever. Good night, sweetie. Maybe tomorrow will be a better day.”