I’m sure she means no harm. At least that’s what I’m trying to convince myself. But too often when I leave the room for even a moment, Maddie finds mischief. Sneaky mischief.
For instance, the other day I made the mistake of leaving the jar of peanut butter out on the counter within her arm’s reach. I was engaged in some activity (I think it was using the restroom in privacy, heaven forbid) and when I returned to a quiet living room I knew we had trouble. Sure enough, after calling out her name to no response, I found her like this:
Behind our couch, her favorite hiding spot for sneaking the forbidden. Only the picture above is of a separate occasion where she had grabbed Warren’s school lunch box to munch on the leftover contents. Other items she’s smuggled back there include my cell phone, our family memory book of the vacation to Disneyland last year (I have to monitor her viewing because she ripped a page in the past), and a Nutri-Grain bar. The cereal bar she actually stashed and came back to a few days later.
But wait. It gets better.
Her penchant for mischief exhibits itself beyond the back of the couch, as seen in her face decorating episode, and in the other choice ways she asserts her fierce independence. A most classic example occurred a few months ago.
Lunch for the babies had officially ended when Jake leaked out his last bite of peas with a slight scowl. I gave up and quit encouraging them to eat more. I laid the boys down on the blanket in the living room to play (Jake on his belly and Joey on his back) while I went to the kitchen to clean up the bibs, washcloths, spoons, and half-empty bowls. I made the mistake of only bringing the first two items with me.
It was only going to take me a minute to finish wiping down the bibs and ring out the washcloths, I swear. I turned off the faucet and heard the familiar sounds of a baby in distress. I called out to Maddie to see where she was and what she was doing.
When I walked back into the living room and looked on the ground to check on the babies, I saw Maddie kneeling over a defenseless Joey now covered in pureed peas. She had taken the bowl and spoon off the table and had recommenced feeding him. For the one minute it had taken me to rinse those things she had shoveled spoonful after spoonful at his mouth. I don’t think she even got any in because it was all over his face and clothes and even on the carpet.
He never cried. He just looked about as shocked as I felt.
I want to tell you that I was calm, that I was amused at her idea of helpfulness, that I was even in control of my own emotions. Or that I had the presence of mind to take a picture. I was none of those things. I was livid.
“Arrrrrrrrgh! Maddie! What am I going to DO with you!” I screeched in a voice I didn’t even recognize as my own. I uttered some other guttural sound and whisked her away to her room, threw her in, and shut the door. She only cried for one second (literally) and then I heard her playing with toys. There seems to be little that phases her these days, or she’s used to my outbursts of frustration. Sad, either way.
I looked at the mess I had to clean up and felt dejected. I know this is a phase. Two-year-olds are notorious for this kind of “creativity,” but I had faced one too many episodes that week.
She doesn’t tantrum. She doesn’t whine about things until she gets her way. She doesn’t have issues with sharing or taking turns. But sometimes I wish that she’d swap out her sneaky ways for another toddler tactic every once in awhile. Just to shake it up a bit.
It’s a good thing 2-year-olds are hilarious. And cute. And this girl is both, though sometimes I need pictures like this to remind me: