God, it's just so funny, the way a two-year-old rages. There were three separate tantrums today, the most notable just after dinner. Ben had pronounced himself all finished, shoving his plate away resolutely, fish uneaten and asparagus ignored. The rest of us went on with our meal, more or less tuning out Ben's impatient bleating. We'd freed him from his booster seat, because although we're working on increasing the length of time we expect him to stay at the table, Jesus, who can listen to that for long?
He took his cup and fork into the kitchen, and we kept eating while he buzzed laps around the dining room. Charlie, who's intensely fond of anything you can haul out of a body of water, up to and probably including a still-writhing kraken, asked for more fish. Since Ben's portion was untouched, Paul took it off his plate and passed it over to Charlie. Ben noticed and stopped in his tracks mid-lap. He drew a breath, flung himself to the floor, and, holy shit, it was like Fishamagoddamngeddon.
"My fish!" he hollered, beating his heels and fists against the floor exactly like every caricature of a toddler you've ever seen, only redder and louder and practically levitating, so forceful was his wrath. He hadn't wanted it earlier, and he certainly didn't want it now, but worse than the prospect of eating it was seeing it passed along. "My fish!" he bellowed, doing a furious centipede [video]. (Note: Despite the song's eponymous promise, no one in the video actually does the centipede, and I don't know what the hell the tiger's doing there, because it's all like, "Wait, so this soundstage isn't 'Union of the Snake,' then?" and speaking of snakes, I'm pretty sure that blinky-eyed cobra is just phoning it in...from beyonnnnd the graaaave. But ignore me because I admit it: I know nothing of art.)
Anyway, it eventually occurred to Ben that he wanted his fork back. So he ran over to the kitchen, keening the whole way, and tried very hard to get it from the sink. But the kid's still knee-high to an InSinkErator and of course he couldn't reach it, and it just got worse and worse, funnier and funnier. I'm not sure what he wanted his fork for — to stab his perfidious father? to excise the fish from the gullet of his brother? — but it sure wasn't so he could eat any Arctic char. Paul eventually gave him a fresh utensil, which Ben immediately jammed back into the drawer with a frenzied howl. "No fresh fork! No Dad give my fork! No way!" Luckily he made it off the tile and back onto the rug before once again hurling himself into the canonical position, face down and flailing.
By this time Paul and I were practically weeping with suppressed laughter. I don't know, maybe I'm not supposed to find it funny, this turbulence over not-even-Ben-is-exactly-sure-what. But it strikes me as...can I say cute? I can surely say dear...how passionate he feels, how baffled he is in the moment, how much he needs our help to get him through it.
And of course we did help him, insofar as it was possible. I made one last offer of the fish that remained on his plate. When he set the plate flying with a single perfectly judged kick, Paul scooped him up, still screaming, limp with outrage, and kept him upstairs until bathtime. Despite offers of stories, songs, and for all I know hookers and smack, Ben continued to yell for a good fifteen minutes. He occasionally made a break for it, heading for the top of the stairs, loudly announcing his intent to go downstairs. Why? "My fish," of course, which he had no intention of eating, then or during the meal.
At the moment the tantrums don't faze me. It's so clear to me that he's not in control, that it's not a question of discipline, his or ours. Maybe there's something else we should have done besides largely ignoring it then removing him from the scene — you think? Right now I'm just pleased, and I must say sort of surprised, that I didn't laugh out loud.
Charlie is in love. Today it's his kindergarten teacher, whom he met when we visited the school today. "Doesn't she have a kind face?" he sighed later, out of the blue, holding the school's photocopied picture of her near to his throbbing heart. This weekend it was Oro, whom he met briefly at her workplace. "I didn't know she'd be that nice," he said breathily. "Now she's in my heart. When I'm older I'll probably marry her." This is an improvement, I believe, from his previous plan, which was to marry me. (Our love could never be, I told him. "Why not?" he asked, aggrieved. It's obvious, kid, to anyone with eyes: you're simply too good for me.)
I have posted Charlie's self-portrait everywhere else, so I might as well stick it here, too.
Let's just say the digital camera Paul bought Charlie has been a worthwhile investment.
Charlie was asking about some friends who don't have kids. He said, "What's the point of a family if there aren't any children?" And what could I say to that, except, Whoa, hey, bloggable moment?