I’ve started growling at The Beast.
And I’m not talking about when a parent says, “What does a dinosaur say?” and then you both roar together in a moment of loving, familial bonding. I’m talking about when your child has literally worn every last nerve in your body, and then by summoning the power of the dark side of the Force, he conjures up a few more nerves so that he can wear on those too, so in a moment of sheer desperation, you make a horrifying, beast-like sound that in a movie would probably open up a portal to a netherworld that is filled with the sounds of weeping and gnashing of teeth. I imagine this netherworld also reeks of the decaying carcasses of parents whose bones were sucked dry when they lost an epic battle of good versus evil with their toddlers. But that’s just my image. Feel free to make up your own scene to go along with the sound of utter despair.
Lately, when The Beast finds himself compelled to commit all manner of deviousness, by, say, busting the childproof lock off of my cabinets and then using my glass pot lids as cymbals, I find myself utterly powerless to curtail his behavior. I tell him to stop. He does not stop. I tell him again to stop. He doesn’t stop. I go to remove the lids from his hands, but the instant he sees me coming, he throws the lids as far from me as he possibly can. And then he starts running. If I manage to catch him, I put him in a timeout, which, who the heck invented this stupid form of discipline? It is easily the most ineffective behavior modification tool ever created.
My child uses timeouts as opportunities to show off his newly acquired gymnastics skills. I recently tried using the pack-n-play as a containment device for timeouts because the naughty stool was literally becoming a stage. The first time I set it up and put The Beast in there, he said, “Bed! Thanks, Mommy!” What? No!! You’re supposed to hate this cage. You’re supposed to quake at the prospect of being jailed. You’re supposed to look at this quasi-stable structure of terror and tremble in fear. You’re supposed to lose all control and kick and scream and beg me to get you out of your mesh-walled prison. You’re not supposed to push the dining room chair over to it so that you can swan dive into it. And you’re not supposed to thank me and then use it to demonstrate your mad planking skills.
So The Beast continues to escalate his villainy and I continue to descend further into madness. I can feel it happening. My heart starts to race. I sweat. I begin threatening all sorts of punishments that I will NEVER follow through with: “I’m going to take away your pacifiers.” (That will not happen until hell literally freezes over.) “You’re going to get it, Mister.” (What does that even mean?) “You’re going to go to bed!” (Yes, that will work because he totally can’t step right out of his toddler bed, empty his dresser of every article of clothing and then climb up his drapes just to show me that he is in absolute control.)
Anyway, that’s when it happens. There’s a moment when I realize that he has me beaten, that I have lost all control. I’m either going to get in my car and drive away or I’m going to growl. (I try not to scream. But that’s a whole other post. One that will find me apologizing to my sisters for how I used to judge them for screaming at their kids. Again, Karma, she’s a raging, hormonal bitch.)
So I make a sound that is so deep and fearsome that even I wonder what portals to hell I’ve opened. The Beast stops what he’s doing and stares at me. There’s a brief moment where I think a look of fear is going to cross his face, but then he smiles at me, crashes his cymbals and says, “Mommy, more!”
God save me. And God help me not to open any portals to hell.