mr and mrs nice guy are asleep, dead to the world in their connubial chamber. it is, unfailingly, somewhere between 6 and 6:30. out of nowhere a child starts yelling.
"MOMMY? moooooooooooommy! poopy! DADDY POOPY mommypoopymommypoopy! poopydaddy!"
then whoever's turn it is to take the morning shift drags his/her sorry ass out of bed and goes into the baby's room. let's say it's me. i walk into her room and the child lights up with glee: "DADDY! IT'S A POOPY!" wiping the sludge from my eyes i lift her out of the crib. "should we change your diaper, sweetie?"
baby: "yeah. poopy."
dad: "no, sweetie, you don't have poopy. i can tell."
baby (defiantly): "yeah. POOPY!"
and of course she does not have a poopy. she just knows -- she has learned -- that if she yells "poopy" regardless of the facts in her pants, someone is going to eventually start paying attention to her.
the other night, mrs nice guy put the kid to bed. the kid did not want to go to bed. five minutes after the door was closed, we heard "MOOMMY! POOPY!" so mom walked back into her room and found the kid grabbing her butt and moaning "poooopy," which was pretty awesome. so mrs nice guy pulled her out of the crib and peeked at her diaper. no poopy. THE BABY, MERELY 20 MONTHS OLD, OFFICIALLY KNOWS HOW TO LIE AND MANIPULATE. I AM SO PROUD. mrs nice guy was suddenly in the absurd position of explaining to another human being that "there is no poopy in your pants! now go to sleep and stop saying poopy!" she gave the kid her toy train, her "choo-choo." she kissed her and left the room. two minutes later, we heard a metallic clatter-clunk -- the sound of the train being thrown from the crib. and then: "MOMMY! DADDY! CHOO-CHOO DOWN! UH-OH!"
she is a conniving little twerp, i'll say that much.
but her obsession with the poopy i believe is in earnest; it's not merely a tool with which to control her parents. she really loves the poop. when we look through picture books i'll point at, say, a drawing of a girl. i'll say "look, sweetie, that's a girl. you're a girl too!" and she'll say "gurrgl." "that's right sweetie! a girl!" and then she'll say "gurrgl has a poopy?"
when she is not saying poopy, the other word that is sure to come from her mouth a mind-bending number of times a day is "elmo" and also "ernie" and, my favorite, "oscar" which she pronounces "ocka." this is significant for one major reason: we do not watch TV in the nice guy house. we have a television, but no cable and no reception. we do, however, have a DVD player and, like, 4 dvds -- all sesame street related (except for the laurie berkner disc which is now burned indelibly into the synapses of my lower cortex. i know her every dance move, wretched wink and infuriating little body wiggle by heart.)
we have made a conscious decision to be evil parents and not have a functioning tv in our house at all ever. the occasional handpicked dvd? fine. but no nightly news/entertainment tonight/geraldo/the view/commercials/COPS/etc. it's hard to tell people about this decision because they mostly assume we are sanctimonious twats or fruity granolacakes. but we haven't really had a tv for about 10 years, so why start now? as it pertains to kids, i am familiar with all the arguments on both sides of this issue, and we lean more towards the AAP on this one. i mean, the american academy of pediatrics probably knows more about kids than i do. besides, i get to watch waaay more internet porn this way. also, netflix (and, let's be honest, the tv in my office) pretty much fill my tv needs. a little history: i am a reformed television junkie. if i had direct tv or tivo i would pretty much never talk to another sentient being or shower ever again. i would become the first-ever couch-human hybrid. it is for my own good that we do not have a tv that actually gets, like, channels.
the problem: my insanely willful daughter has apparently inherited my tube addiction. every morning, after she wakes us up with her filthy lies about having a poopy diaper, she then demands "elmo." and "ernie." and "elmoernie." and "ocka." and she DOESN'T STOP. it is very hard to say "no, sweetie, no tv this morning" when she is fully prepared to retaliate with "ELMO! ELMO! ELMO! ELMOELMOELMOELMOELMOELMO! ELMODADDY!" and her coup de grace: "elmopoopy!" it's not like she hasn't seen every single one of her 4 dvds about 984,368 times. this week. we do generally let her watch, on average, about 45 minutes a day. which is about 45 minutes more a day than i'm comfortable with -- she's not even two years old, ferchrissakes. don't get me wrong, i have been known to enjoy me some Sesame Street Old School even after my child has gone to bed. but why she needs urgently to see elmo choose which picture he wants to display at the monster art show AGAIN NOW AGAIN NOW AGAIN NOW is driving me to drink. by which i mean drink more than usual. by which i mean i am hoping to harvest my child for her liver in a year or two.
sometimes i cave and relent. i fail. i say (usually to myself) in top parenting form: FINE FUCKING WATCH TV UNTIL YOUR FUCKING EYES LEAK OUT YOUR FUCKING HEAD; SEE IF I FUCKING CARE! other times i manage to distract her with books and talk of poop for long enough that forgets ... for about an eighth of a second. and then she starts asking for tv again. mrs nice guy and i are both at a bit of a loss as to what to do. it's gotten a little dire. if the kid is at home, she wants to watch tv. it's all she asks for. it's all she talks about (aside from the poop that is likely not in her pants). we have resorted to keeping the tv unplugged because she has figured out how to load the DVD player and turn the thing on herself!
i was talking to an older colleague with a college-aged daughter the other day who asked how she was doing. i said "oh she's fine. a big fan of testing limits." he smirked and said "i was a big fan of setting limits." he went on to say that kids want limits, you just have to be firm. he said that his kid now says that he was "stricter than most of her friends' parents," and she does so "not without a little pride." i looked right up at him, nodded, and simply replied "poopy."