While Nathan’s daughter was learning the questionably valuable skill of swimming the other day, my kid, Sasha, tested out a far more important talent: her ability to lie. I was schlepping her home from the subway in the aftermath of an evening thunderstorm, and she’d somehow got me to carry her. But after a block or two, I’d had enough.
“Okay, Sasha,” I said. “You’re a big girl. It’s time to walk.”
She responded by nuzzling her face into my shoulder and whining, “I’m sleepy…”
Sleepy, eh? “Fine. If you’re tired, then it’s bedtime when we get home. Do you want to go to bed right away?”
She lifted her head. “Okay, I can walk.”
Except, well, not really. First of all, Sasha is not a very good liar, which is disappointing. Because lying is an important thing to be able to do, both to be able to bend people to your will and to fulfill certain social obligations. And she isn’t quite there yet.
She has, however, found other ways to manipulate us. Last night, for example, was horrible: Sasha refused to do anything and everything we asked—no bath! no diaper! no no no! No nothing that would lead up to bedtime!
Unless… A bottle of milk? Sure. A bowl of noodles? Okay! Sasha, it turned out, would do all of those OTHER things we’re always trying to get her to do—as long as it let her stay up later and avoid bedtime.
The maddening thing about this is that, as a parent, you can simultaneously be a victim of this toddling manipulation AND step outside yourself and watching yourself being manipulated. You know it’s going on, and yet you can’t figure out a way around it. And that’s not to say we weren’t willing to brave tears and screaming, to threaten Sasha with all kinds of dire punishments, but when you’re dealing with a feral, manipulative, irrational animal, your practiced, reasoned approach to animal control is worthless. Me, I actually recused myself from involvement in the process once Jean came home—I’d had enough of failure.
Eventually, around 10pm, Sasha went the fuck to sleep. Then we ate dinner and went the fuck to sleep ourselves. This morning, I’m still stewing (can ya tell?) about it all. The kid never even said, “I’m sorry.”