You know, when my kids were little, I got myself all revved up for the famous “terrible twos.” I got ready for the tantrums and the irrational demands. But they never materialized.
Until the morning of each third birthday.
No kidding. All three of my own children were fine from 2 to 3, but as soon as that third birthday rolled around, they turned into tiny tyrants.
Which is why I’m proud-ish to say that my beloved granddaughter, Ellie, is far more advanced than my own kids. She is only 2 1/2, but she has mastered the fine points of despotic rule in a way that could only make third world leaders jealous.
Tonight is the first night of Christmas break. Yeehah! This means that my daughter the teacher is off for a week, which means that old Nonni here is off for a week, too.
Which means, in the world of neurotic old Italian ladies, that Ellie and I have spent the week making cookies, creating gifts, watching Christmas movies and generally getting ready to be apart for a week. I tell her I’ll miss her. She tells me she’ll miss me. We hug. We kiss. We sigh.
We have also been battling a wicked respiratory virus, ear infections, coughs, nosebleeds and a little constipation. It’s been a loooooooonnnnnnngggggg week.
And today we hit the wall.
Both of us.
My beloved, adored, sweet, smiling, loving…..you get it, right?…..my darlingest little girl arrived at my house this morning wearing her Crazy Dictator Personality.
And she started right in.
“NOOOOOOOO!!!!! Daddy carry me to the car!!!!!!!” “No, honey, your baby brother in his carseat is too heavy for me. Daddy will get Johnny, I will get you.”
“I NEED MILKIES!!! MILKIES!! MILKIESMILKIESMILKIESMILKIESMILKIESMILKIES!!” “Honey, you need to stop screaming at me. Ask me nicely.” MILKIESMILKIESMILKIESMILKIESMILKIESMILKIES!!”
“Go away!!! Nonnie, you go away! I want to be ALONE IN THIS ROOM!!!” “Well, dear sweet child, this is the bathroom, and I was in it first. So you need to go……” “NOOOOOOO!! I am NOT talking to you!!!!”
And the day went on.
Me, with my sinuses throbbing and my last nerve on edge. “Ellie, I am making you a waffle.” “NOOOOOOOOOO!!! No waffle!!!! NOOOOOOOO!!! I won’t!!!!!!”
Me again, with the same nerves and throbs. “Do you want some oatmeal?” “NOOOOOOOOO!!! Give me a waffle!!! I NEED a waffle!!!!!”
Most of it was fairly typical Toddler Tyrant behavior, but some was enough to make me pull out my old gray hairs. Like this little demand, while I was in the middle of changing yet another giant yellow poopie from baby Johnny. “I NEED YOU!!! HELP ME!!!! ARGGGHHHGHGHGHGHGHGHGHG!!!” Wrap baby in closest blanket, place him on the floor and rush into the bedroom. “Ellie! What’s wrong?!” “I need you to make my lion sit up.”
I’ll be honest. I must confess. I started to count the minutes until the end of the babysitting day.
“I NEED a cookie!!!!!!” Me: Roughly 94 minutes….
Other hysterical, tyrannical demands were just plain hilarious.
For example, the poor kid has had this respiratory bug for more than two weeks. Her nose hurts. She keep reaching into her right nostril with a pointed finger to try to take out the offending mucous. “Look! I finded a big boogie!” When I reminded her for the tenth time time an hour that she needed to keep her fingers OUT of her nose, she announced with a completely straight face, “Go away, Nonni. No talking to me. No looking at me. I don’t have to look at you!” And she went right on digging.
Or this perfect example of what today was like for Nonni and Ellie.
My little girl didn’t want to take off her red reindeer pajamas today. I generally insist on getting dressed, washing faces, doing hair. But today snow was falling and we were all worn down. I let her stay in her jammies.
Until the moment when Ellie asked me to help her put on undies. I unsnapped her jammies, pulled down the zipper, and took off her Pullup. Got her clean, took the pajamas off and handed her the nice clean underwear.
Which she immediately placed on her head.
And she immediately started to cry. “Put this on my head! Put this on!!!!” “Ok, what? On your head? Um……”
“I can’t!!!!!!!! I need my undies on my chest! On my chest! On my CHEST!!!!!”
At this point, Nonni gave up. Nonni has a cold. Nonni is tired, OK? Nonni said, “STOP IT!!!!!! Your undies don’t go on your CHEST!!!” I did not address the issue of whether or not said undies belonged on her head…..
It was a tough day.
By naptime, we were both pretty wrung out. As I pulled the blankets up over her shoulders, my tiny tyrant looked up at me with her huge brown eyes and said, “You’re gonna miss me. You will be sad.”
“You’re gonna miss ME.” I countered. She smiled, rolled onto her side to go to sleep, and murmured, “Night, Nonni. I love you so muck.” (she can’t make the ‘ch’ sound.)
I melted, kissed her cheek, tenderly smoothed back her hair, and went into the living room.
“46 minutes,” I said out loud.