It has been brought to my attention that I never write about Pippa AKA PJ AKA Squinky Jane. Rest assured, I love my daughter and she is a real child not a cardboard cut-out we haul out for family pictures. I was merely waiting for the non-disclosure agreement I signed at her birth to expire. Girlfriend came out with pen and contract in hand (don't ask me how she smuggled those items into my uterus). KIDDING.
|A photo from the day she was born: no pen and contract but you can see she has...a strong personality...|
No, she didn't make me sign a non-disclosure agreement, but I have great faith that she could have strong-armed me into doing so if it served her purposes. Confused? Let me explain...by taking a jaunt in a seemingly random direction as is my wont...:
One season on "Last Comic Standing" I saw a comic perform a sketch comparing his 2 year old son to a WWII Japanese prison camp guard. He described himself as hiding in the corner trying to write jokes while his 2 year old strode around the house declaring, "You play trains NOW!" When that approach did not have the desired effect, the child grew interrogative and suspicious and sat down (here the comic pantomimed him taking a long drag on a cigarette, which I assume was a joke...I hope), looked his father in the face, paused and asked, "Why you no play traaaaains with me?" (I so wish I could have found the sketch on Youtube as I'm really not doing it justice by describing it).
That kid's got nothing on Peej.
I have come to realize over the past 15 1/2 months that Pippa is some sort of genius supervillain/dictator sent by God knows who to beat first her parents and then the world into submission. Her weapons include guilt, cleverness, sheer force of will and cuteness.
|OBEY THE BUCKET HAT!|
Cuteness is a weapon she generally wisely wields against her father. Mommy can be influenced to, say, give her an extra cookie through cuteness, but Daddy's where the real goods are to be had. A well-timed, "I lub Dada" can land her Daddy's entire lunch after she's just thrown hers on the ground uneaten (Mommy should know better than to offer her such slop. Peanut butter banana sandwich? Mama please.). An adorable squinky smile distracts Daddy long enough so he doesn't notice she's just pick-pocketed him and is running away to drop his credit cards down the air conditioning vent and make calls to her league of baby supervillains on his cell phone.
Guilt is similarly effective on Daddy. What tender-hearted man could withstand the outpouring of grief Pippa displays when Dylan leaves the house in the morning? Throwing herself at the door wailing, "Dada! Dada! I lub Dada! Dada! Hep pwea (help please)! Dada!" is a surefire way to get Daddy to come back inside and give cuddles and kisses and an extra sippy of juice. The rewards of guilt are not only immediate. PJ knows the image of her wallowing in utter misery at the departure of her father will stick in Dylan's heart like a barb poisoned with a mind-control drug, inducing him to take her on furtive weekend trips for french fries (verboten by mean ol' Mommy) and "prettys" (AKA anything shiny, pink and obnoxious).
I am fairly impervious to guilt (you wanna play that game, sweetheart? Let me show you what you did to Mommy's tummy skin), so Pippa has resorted to cunning and trickery. Yep, that's right, I'm being outwitted daily by someone who can't even pronounce her own name yet. She is constantly assaulting me on new fronts so I never know where to send my forces. If I focus on covering the bathroom thinking "Well, yesterday she was teaching those Lego guys to swim in the toilet", she's in the living room holding a secret war council on the top of the table with her most trusted allies: my cell phone, inhaler, and the DVD remote. When I go to "rescue" her off the table, she calls me "Mean mean mean mean" and three seconds later, she's holding swimming lessons in the toilet again.
I swear she knows how to throw her voice, or she's paying her brother in cool scraps of paper (a Boog's tastes are simple and odd) to make Pippa-like sounds from her room to cover up her nefarious deeds in other parts of the house. I'll be collecting laundry and pause to listen to the "kids" playing happily in Pippa's room before I make my way to the bathroom/laundry room/redneck hellhole only to find her in there dropping my Penzey's spices down the open shower drain. When I say, "What?! You were in your room playing with your brother! There were two voices! I heard two voices, I know it! Don't tell me I'm crazy!", she just laughs this slow and deliberate laugh, "Ho ho ho ho" and gives me this steely-eyed Civil War general look. She knows what she's doing.
|Gen. John Bell Hood illustrating the Pippa look|
I bear the brunt of her formidable force of will as well. A Pippa shall not be moved. Period. You know that redirection parenting trick you're supposed to use when they're too young for time-out and they're doing something naughty or dangerous? Pippa laughs in the face of redirection. If she wants to climb up onto that bookshelf and fall on her head and get a big goose egg she can use to guilt Daddy into getting her some ice cream with, then she is damn well going to climb up that bookshelf. Pippa doesn't care about the stinky old slide you're offering to let her climb up instead. She is making a strategic move in climbing up that rickety $30 Target bookshelf and resistance is futile. And you know what? Sometimes after the 300th time of removing her from said bookshelf and telling her "No, we don't climb bookshelves! Not safe! Let's climb the slide instead!", I think, "Maybe it wouldn't be so bad to let her climb the bookshelf..."
That's how she gets me. She wears me down to a convictionless shadow of a person who can't tell whether it's acceptable or not to allow a 1 year old baby to climb up a piece of furniture 5 times her height. Mind-control powers, yo. Girlfriend's got 'em.
The worst of it all is that I'm pretty sure Dylan and I are both suffering from Stockholm syndrome. She manipulates and abuses us and pushes her insane toddler agenda on us and we just cannot stop raving about how adorable and smart she is. I'll call Dylan and gush, "Pippa said, 'Hep pwea, Mama' when she wanted to get onto the kitchen counter to play with the steak knives. Isn't she clever?" and he'll counter with, "This morning, when she climbed into my lap and grabbed my fried eggs off my plate, she said, 'Thay you' before stomping on my balls and running away. She's a genius!"
Yeah, she's a genius alright - an evil genius. I fully expect to discover at some point that I was somehow magically impregnated by the spirit of Voldemort while reading Harry Potter around the time I got pregnant with her (no, Harry Potter had nothing to do with her conception. I'm not that kind of dork). Nevertheless, we remain calm under fire and although I sometimes feel like I'm raising the world's next Mussolini, perhaps with excellent, firm and compassionate parenting she'll end up being more of a Hillary Clinton - a polarizing figure yes, but no one can deny she's got passion and grit and a certain...squinkiness about her...
|Squinky Jane for President 2052|