We last left off with Zoey huddled on the only dry corner of her bed, napping. I went to wake her up anticipating that she would be in a horrid mood. I had on my Ninja Mom/Force of Disciple game face. I had one mission, and one mission only: TO MAKE HER SUFFER. I was going to make that kid change her sheets NO MATTER WHAT. I was going to make her RUE THE DAY that she made her bed a puddle, ate a flower stem, and threw all her books at the closet door. That’s right, RUE THE DAY (insert fist shaking at sky).
I woke Zoey up by pulling the covers off of her — which she hates. She looked at me, batted her eyelashes, and whispered, “I missed you, Mama.” Then she gave me a hug. I was sooooo not falling for that.
“Well,” I said briskly, “You need to clean up this mess. Let’s get going — pull all the sheets and blankets off your bed.” I waited for the pouting and whining. But instead, she just started doing what I asked. THE FIRST FRICKIN’ TIME I ASKED IT. Are you kidding me???? That has literally never happened before. Usually I’m all, ZoeycleanupZoeycleanupZOEYCLEANUP! Fine, I thought, Two can play at this game.
“Now you need to put all your books back on the shelf. Neatly.” And . . . she complied. While she complied she even hummed a jaunty little tune. “I’m not helping. At all.” I added. “Because YOU made the mess, YOU clean it up.” I even was so brazen as to pont my finger at her.
“Okay, Mommy!” Zoey chirped. Then she started doing her version of skipping. While continuing to hum. She could have been one of the seven dwarfs, what with all her jolly making.
Well, one of us was definitely suffering.
Later that evening, after Zoey washed the sheets and hung them out to dry, it was time to remake the bed. Ah, ha! Another chance to inflict suffering!
“Demetri, go make Zoey make her bed.”
“Oh, I’ll just do it for her,” said Demetri a little too cheerfully. I mean, where was his sense of justice?
“No, you misunderstand me. SHE needs to do it. I don’t care how hard it is. I don’t care if her little chicken arms can’t pull the sheet over the corner . . .”
“So, basically if I make her cry I might get lucky tonight?”
“Yes! Now we understand each other.” Then we shook on it.
Demetri and Zoey headed upstairs and I laughed my evil laugh while I spied on them via the video monitor. Almost instantly there was giggling and general merriment from above. Demetri so did not get lucky. Not only that, but I had to have this conversation with my mom and dad while there was Party Fun Time upstairs.
My dad: It’s just not that big a deal. I mean, you don’t know why she did it. She’s a smart kid.
Me: Dad, how smart can she be if she POURED WATER ALL OVER HER BED?
My mom: Maybe it was an accident . . .
Me: No, I saw her pour it out.
My dad: Well, she was probably just doing an experiment to see how water pours or to see if things stay wet. See? She’s so smart — always thinking. I really think she is exceptional . .
And then I stomped out of the room.
Late that night I lay in bed thinking about how I had been bested by a three year-old. And how, quite possibly, I was the one who needed to grow up.