Friday, October 2, 2009

A way with words

My children have got a way with words. Specifically, they have a way of using their words like a knife cutting straight into your innards. My daughter may only be 2 ½ but she already knows the power of a phrase to take a man down.

Sec doesn’t have school on Thursdays or Fridays so the past two mornings, she’s been left in the hands of my grandmother while David and I go to work and Primo, to kindergarten. She despises this arrangement. If she could take a step back and, as parents used to say, “be sensible,” the kid would see that staying with Nonnie is a “Winner Winner Chicken Dinner!”-type jackpot.

I know for a fact that my grandmother spoils my toddler ‘til she’s rotten as a wormy apple. Regarding television,

Nonnie institutes no limits on duration of viewing and exercises no control over content. This is why when I come to pick the kids up from her place, I find them watching Star Wars or X Men or other programming that Primo will have nightmares about for weeks, requiring me to “make Star Wars disappear,” and barring that, sleep with him.

Nonnie used to hurry to shut off the TV when she heard me coming but now that we live in the same building she doesn’t have the lead time she once did, when I had to buzz in to the apartment building. Plus, after covering-up for his great grandmother once or twice, Primo told me flatly, “Nonnie told me to lie and tell you we didn’t watch any TV but that’s not true we watched Spongebob SquarePants, twice! And I just felt I HAD to tell you.”

I told my grandmother to please refrain from instructing my children to lie to me, as I’m sure they’ll start doing it of their own volition soon enough. So now we just all accept that the kids will watch whatever the hell they feel like for however the hell long they feel like it and that’s that. Don’t even get me started about the unlimited access to juice, ice cream or cream puffs.

So I can’t help but feel a lack of sympathy when Seconda resists being left in the care of Nonnie, who makes our apartment into someplace resembling Pinnochio’s Pleasure Island.

But Sec knows how to cut through my impassivity. She started crying this morning, as usual, and asking plaintively, “Are you gonna leave me Mommy?”

“Mommy has to work,” I told her.

“No, I don’t WANT you to leave!” she bawled. And bawled. And bawled. And I. hard-hearted mother that I am, ignored her.

Then she looked up at me with her big, tearful blue eyes and said in a shaky voice:

“I’m scared to live in a house all by myself.”

Shot to the heart.

I kneeled down and hugged her and assured her she would never, never leave in a house all by herself. Until, maybe she was a grown-up. But then only if she wanted to. She could still live with me, and we could have coffee together in the morning and share clothes.

What can I say? She’s got a way with words, that one.