Remember the little guy in Chicago, who's heart I needed to win over? Well, we had a rough start. Fresh out of the airport, as I climbed into the car, he saw me and said, "What the?" And then he repeated it again, "What the?"
He understands the context of that question, though thankfully he doesn't understand its context in the adult world where it is often paired with the horrific F bomb. My daughter thinks he learned it from the children's movie, Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs II. Over the weekend, when he unexpectedly encountered me in his house, coming up the stairs or walking into his bedroom, I heard the same buffeting, "What the?"
On my fourth day, when he realized I was not the babysitter or not there to turn his world upside down, or that maybe Grandma was someone who might love him a ton, the ice began to crack. We had both gotten up early (it was still dark). I was on my way to the bathroom, but he had decided it was time to get up--against the wishes and demands of his parents who had ordered, "Get back in your bed."
When he realized it was me, I expected, "What the?" but instead was overly pleased to hear his cheery voice, "Grandma! Can I watch a show?" Now whether he was genuinely happy to see me or saw me as a means to the iPad, I can only guess, but he hadn't said, "What the?" We were making progress.
I had until 3:30 that day to continue hoping for detente. At the end of the visit, I still wasn't a favored nation, but at least I felt somewhat liked. Tolerated. Until I tried to kiss him goodbye, but at least his parting words weren't "What the?" He said good-bye and on orders from his mom, even told me he loved me. In a deep begrudging voice.
May the universe bless the parents of strong-willed children--which brings me to the events that were to follow our visit.
This strong-willed child has a strong attachment to his binky. A three and a half year attachment. His devoted parents, each with a doctorate in Child Psychology, had slowly weened him off the binky so he was only allowed its comfort during nap time, bed time, airplane time, and as previously mentioned, when he could hoodwink his grandfather into pulling it off the shelf. The day after our visit, the new rule was no binky. A visit to the dentist the week before had made this mandatory--the binky was shaping his mouth with future-astronomic-orthodontist-expenditure-consequences.
My daughter was waiting until after we left to eliminate binky, because she knew, all hell was about to break lose.
Today, thousands of miles away, I followed the binky war via text, and it turned out more mild than expected.
My daughter wrote: So how is Ezra responding to not getting the binky for nap time today? Every ten minutes or so, he opens his door and says loudly, "I need binky!" And then he slams the door and informs me that he will not be going to sleep, though he's saying everything kindly. He's in his room reading now. If I tell him to go to bed, he just gently says, "No," or "I'm not going to sleep."
A text update followed a few minutes later, "He just came out of his room and said, 'Mommy I read a book!! I can read all by myself.' I said, 'That's great. Now go take a nap.' Then he said, 'Uh...never.' and shut his door. It is so funny because he's in such good spirits."
He never took a nap and he also informed his mother he wasn't going "to sleep tonight either." With a devious little smile, he warned his mother that she too wouldn't be going to sleep.
When night came, he was still his sweet self and tried to convey to his parents why it was going to be hard to go to sleep. His expected defiance was still missing, but he was a little emotional.
First day of the binky war ended on a good note--the last update came at 7:47 p.m. and despite his resolve not to go to sleep, he had in fact, fallen asleep.