Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Who's the mother here?

I’m getting the feeling that my daughter watches a lot of TV when I leave her with my grandmother. Why am I getting this feeling? She tells me.

“I WANNA WATCH LAZYTOWN!” Seconda yelled last night.

Primo and I both turned our heads to look at her.

“What?” I asked.

“What?” he asked.

“I. Wanna. Watch LaaaaazzzzyTOWN,” she repeated, like we were a bunch of blockheads.

“And how do you know about Lazytown?” I asked her.

“Nonnie put it on for me,” she replied.

So I called my grandmother and asked how much TV she lets Seconda watch.

“Nothing,” she said too quickly. Then: “She hardly watch it. She doesn’t even look when I put it on.”

“So turn it off then.”

“Ok, I know.”

When Nonnie responds this way, it is clear that she’s already tuned me out, like she is my teenage daughter. It is the sign that she has no intention of abiding by my wishes whatsoever. I know this for a fact.

One night, David and I enjoyed the good fortune of having my cousin, Sidney, babysit so we could grab a bite and, you know, connect. We put the kids to bed before we left but of course, just as we were placing our order, my cousin called. I could hear Seconda screaming her head off in the background. My cousin wanted to know what to do and I told her to give the baby the paci but to not, under any circumstances, take her out of the crib. With some kids, you stick them on your shoulder, rock them a minute and they’re out like a light. Once you remove my daughter from the crib, she is awake. Period. No amount of rocking or bouncing or singing will lull her back to sleep – it doesn’t matter if you keep it up for an hour or more. She is wired to sleep only in the crib. I told this to my cousin. I assured her that the child would only cry for a few minutes and then go back to sleep.

Sidney told me later that a minute after we hung up, my grandmother called the house and heard the baby crying.

“Was goin’ on?’ she asked, “Why is da baby cryin’?”

Sidney explained the situation and my instructions.

“Don ‘t you DARE listen to her!” my grandmother shouted, “I gonna tell you wat to do. Pick dat baby up and rock her on you lap. She gonna go right back to sleep nice and easy, and she don’t wake up Primo.”

When we came home an hour later, guess who was awake?

“Nonnie forced me to,” Sidney confessed, “She said not to listen to you under any circumstances.”

It’s always the same old argument.

“I am the MOTHER here!” I yell at my grandmother, “What I say, goes.”

“Ok, ok,” she replies. Which means, “Sure, until you close the door behind you.”

It’s maddening. But this is the price of free child care. And I have chosen to accept it.
So when I ask Seconda what sound the horsey makes and she says, “Kneeee-how! Ni Hao Kai-lan! Put on Ni Hao Kai-lan!!!” I don’t yell at my grandmother. I just unplug the TV when she comes over.