It’s like living with a tiny tyrant, a pint-sized Imelda Marcos with fewer shoes, Paris Hilton minus the paparazzi.
The Diva’s no longer The Diva. That tongue-in-cheek title’s been wrestled away by Jellybean whose become the most demanding cuss this side of Celebrity Rehab. And the way she talks to her dear old dad is mean enough to make one of Cinderella’s wicked step-sisters stop and take notice.
“Here’s the deal,” Jellybean says, hands on hips, head snaking back and forth like an angry baby-momma on the Jerry Springer Show. “You cannot leave the den again. If you leave the den, you’re gonna be in big trouble … and I won’t let you come to my party. So sit right there on that couch and play with me when I tell you to. And color – don’t scribble – when I tell you to. And if I want some apple juice, I want you to get it for me.
“OK? OK … now sit.”
This is karma. It’s some sort of cosmic, fortune cookie payback for all the smart-ass things I said to my mother, all the PE coaches I made swallow their whistles and all the substitute teachers I forced into early retirement. Jellybean’s been sent here to punish me for past sins.
At some point, she went from a sweet Cabbage Patch Kid, always ready with a hug and a kiss on the cheek, to a nasty Garbage Pail Kid, who likes to “accidentally” sneeze in my face and giggles until she forgets to breathe.
My Lovely Wife doesn’t get such ill treatment. With just a look, My Lovely Wife commands respect. She’s mastered that teacher’s one-eye glare, the kind Medusa used to make that turned mortal men to stone. With that stare, Jellybean’s off to the bath, sitting on the potty, throwing away her yogurt wrapper or picking up her toys without so much as syllable in protest.
I make the same demand and it’s usually met with a “You do it.” Or “I asked for you to bring it to me, so you can throw it away,” or, and this is my favorite, “I’m too tired.”
So I try the stare … but I just look like I’m passing painful gas.
I have to plead for a “please,” and Jellybean’s more apt to start speaking Swahili than saying “Thank You.”
She yells. She stomps. She points when she wants something. And if I dare to ignore her the way I, for example, turn my back on the dogs when they’re acting up, she’s been known to grab my face, squeeze my cheeks together and talk to me like I’m the 3-year-old.
After sneaking into our bed, Jellybean will roll and whisper something like, “Now. I’m gonna let Momma hold me. If you wanna hold me, you can’t so don’t ask. If you need to tell me something you can but make sure I’m awake. And if I need something to drink, I’ll tell you.”
And that’s it. She’ll roll over with no more conscious than Ted Bundy for having maybe hurt my feelings with her harsh command.
I’m no pushover … OK, so I kinda am. I punish. I take bedtime books away. I try really hard not to smile and thus encourage her diva-itude. But she’s just so darn cute, talking like Donald Trump from the bathtub all covered in bubbles demanding to wear her Rapunzel night shirt “cause I feel pretty tonight.”
She’ll grow out of it. ‘Course that’s probably what Paris Hilton’s parents thought.
Brett Buckner is an award-winning freelance newspaper/magazine writer who was raised in Albany.
Contact Brett Buckner at firstname.lastname@example.org