Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Going slightly mad

My son is playing mind games with me. He's winning, too. At less than 21 months old, he knows he has the power to crush me like he does a graham cracker, and then toss me overboard with the rest of his food. And he's not afraid to do that whenever he thinks it'll be "fun."

I am certain Kyle has been plotting this from the womb, from the moment he felt annoying pokes and heard a goofy voice say "Did you feel that, kiddo?" He set the groundwork for his plan way back in 2009, when he would give smiles and laughs to me freely, and treat me like I was the greatest person in his world. He knew he was creating an addiction, which he would use to get back at me. How else would you explain my overwhelming desire for the approval of someone whose idea of a good time is racing across the kitchen floor on his butt?

Then, last month, with everything in place according to his plan, Kyle launched Operation Daddy-Go-Crazy. First came the clinging... to his mother. If Jennifer was doing the dishes, Kyle would want her to pick him up. If Jennifer was getting ready to go out, Kyle would grab his jacket. If Jennifer was going to the bathroom, Kyle would want to go too. Meanwhile, if I were to put on my jacket and boots, kiss Jennifer good-bye and say that I was going on an expedition to the arctic and may never return, he probably would have whined that I took Jennifer away from reading to him. When the three of us played together, Kyle would quickly turn it into a game of two. One night, after Jennifer and I raced Kyle's toy cars across the floor, the little guy ran to them, picked them up, and then handed Jennifer both cars. I just sat there, with nothing in hand, dejected as Kyle ran over me to grab the cars after Jennifer rolled them again.

At first I thought Kyle's behavior was part of that "cling-to-one-parent" developmental stage you read about in books and on the web, but I have since felt it's actually something more sinister. Kyle is deliberately doing things to get at me, especially when other people are around. When it's just the little guy and me going out for a walk, he will gladly hold my hand. Forget that when Jennifer is around, and even last week he insisted on holding a friend's hand over mine. When it's just the two of us, Kyle and I have been practicing counting to ten. I get it right most times, and Kyle's not so bad at it himself. But later, when I saw my landlady and told her that Kyle could count to ten, all he said was "doy doy doo." I swear he was trying to embarrass me and make me look like a liar. When I take him to restaurants now, he sometimes makes high-pitched screams capable of breaking the glasses on the table. He then looks at me to see whether it was loud enough to get us kicked out. When he sees my disapproving look and hears my scolds, he concludes that, no, he was not loud enough and tries again until the other patrons start throwing food at us and we're forced to run away.

What did I do to deserve this? I care for the little guy each day, I hardly ever forget to feed him, and occasionally we do have fun together. Why, I thought, was he going to these lengths to shun me and embarrass me in public? Why did he apparently have a sudden disdain for me? It didn't seem right. Then during a walk last weekend he let his guard down. He laughed as he pulled his arm away from me. At that moment I saw that his behavior was not because of any ill will toward me; he just wants to drive me crazy. Right now he thinks it's fun. Knowing that, I think I'll just let the operation continue... I'm halfway toward Insanityville, anyway, so I might as well let him finish the job. I'll get my revenge later, when he'll be embarrassed to have his crazy dad around. Those will be fun days, indeed.

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