Blog Archive

Thursday, February 19, 2015

In which my daughter absolutely terrorizes her older cousin

This past weekend, we had the lovely opportunity to spend some quality time with my niece as my parents looked after her. My niece is a year older than Audrey, making her a solid two-and-a-quarter years old.

In addition to being older and wiser, Audrey's cousin also has a very different personality than Audrey. She is very fastidious in her dealings, and likes things done a certain way. She is neat, polite, and generally a treat to be around.

On the other hand, Audrey (bless her heart) is like a train wreck through a paint store. I love her to death, but between her age (which makes her curious, reckless, and immune to discipline) and the personality she inherited from us (which makes her curious, reckless, and immune to discipline), she can be quite a handful.

Put the two girls together and ... it's like someone wrote a sitcom, but accidentally cast a couple of toddlers in the main roles. Their interactions are exactly what you'd expect from an adult Odd Couple.

For instance, Cousin enjoys activities such as quietly coloring, quietly watching shows on Netflix on my parents' iPad, and quietly looking through books.

Audrey enjoys activities such as taking away Cousin's crayons and scribbling violently over whatever she is coloring, repeatedly touching the screen or pressing the "home" button on the iPad and thus closing out of the videos on Netflix, and trying to take away the books and rip the pop-ups out.

Every time Cousin is doing something that Audrey wants to join, we will ask her "is it okay if Audrey watches Netflix with you?" or "can Audrey color too?" And every time, she will look at us in horror and shriek "no!"

"Why not just ask me to kill a man with my bare hands?"

And I totally empathize with her. If I were her, I wouldn't want to play with Audrey either. Audrey is like that guy who walks up to a group of people chatting, and suddenly everyone remembers they have somewhere else to be and the group disbands in seconds. 

"Hey guys, what are you all talking about and can I join in your banter with some banter of my own?"
"Uhh ... I have a conference call to get to."

Of course this will get better as she gets older, but right now it's hilarious because she is so completely oblivious to the effect she's having. She just wants to play whatever her cousin is playing, but her version of "play" involves completely destroying it.

When it's time for snacks, Cousin will neatly dip snap peas in ranch dressing and eat them. Audrey just buries the entire snap pea in dressing and then throws it on the floor.

We couldn't even play with the bowling set because Audrey would knock the pins over as fast as I could set them up, and then take the ball and throw it into the kitchen.

She's a monster.

I love her so much.

"Eatin' some bananas on SCHOOOOOL PICTURE DAY yeah!"

This rampant destruction means that Cousin does not want to share with Audrey ... and I don't blame her. Would you want to share with someone who always wrecked everything and got boogers on it?

"Thanks for letting me borrow your phone! Sorry for getting it all sticky -- honestly I don't even know what happened to it!"

Alas, part of growing up is learning to interact with people even when they irritate you, and Cousin is learning this lesson every minute she spends with Audrey.

She was coloring, and Audrey was trying to edge her way in on that as usual. So we asked Cousin to share her crayons. And how did she oblige? By handing Audrey a crayon whose color could only be described as "putrid." It was like brown and green had a baby and it died and decayed for three weeks in a swamp before being made into a crayon. This was the only crayon Cousin was willing to part with.

Audrey, of course, was happy as a pig in shit to scribble on some butcher paper with her lone putrid crayon.

We didn't end up keeping her masterpiece afterwards, but it looked something like this. 
Better than this, though, obviously.

When snack time arrives, we have long since learned to give the girls separate plates. Because Cousin knows well that Audrey will smear ranch dressing everywhere, and will get it on the apple pieces too (which Audrey won't care about, but the rest of us think is pretty gross). Let Audrey destroy her own snack plate instead of forcing them to share and making Cousin eat ranch apples.

At one point, Audrey grabbed Cousin's treasured Sleeping Beauty Barbie doll. Cousin's reaction was about what you'd expect if she'd seen Audrey pulling at the pin on a live grenade. It is pretty hilarious to hear a two-year-old scream "NO, AUDREY! YOU CAN'T PLAY WITH THAT!" in her squeaky little two-year-old voice. So bossy. She'll go far in life.

In addition to all this, there's the more basic problem that Audrey disgusts her cousin, viscerally.

The two girls were sitting next to each other in high chairs eating dinner, which was ziti noodles with spaghetti sauce on them. Cousin was carefully eating noodles one by one with a fork. Audrey was grabbing fistfuls of food and shoving them into her mouth with gusto.

At one point, for no good reason, Audrey reached over and grabbed Cousin's bare arm with her sauce-covered hand. Why did she do it? No idea. But how did Cousin react? With absolute horror and disgust. Audrey might as well have smeared actual shit on her, for how grossed out she looked. She stared at the big red hand print on her skin, then stared at Audrey, then stared pleadingly at me. This is a kid who does not even like to finger paint because she prefers to keep her hands clean. And now she has someone else's dinner wiped across her arm.

I jumped up to get a wet rag and clean up the mess, and then we moved the high chairs farther apart. Audrey, you monster. I love you.

And if Cousin catches Audrey drinking from the wrong sippy cup, ooooh boy. You'd best have a new sippy cup handy for her. She don't want NOTHIN' that's been tainted by Audrey's filthy mouth. Fate worse than death right there.

But of course, for a well-rounded sitcom Odd Couple, the messy one also has to bring out some good qualities in the tidy one. And that totally happens with these two as well.

We were at the playground one morning, and it was pretty foggy so the play structure was covered in dew. We had a towel with us, and dried off the slide and the steps as best we could so the kids wouldn't slip. Cousin immediately started to climb the steps, but discovered that the railing was still wet. So she stopped climbing and waited for my mom to come over with the towel to dry it off before she would continue.

Audrey, of course, didn't give a rip about the railing being wet and barreled past her cousin up to the top of the play structure. Cousin would have none of this, and promptly forgot her prior objections to the wet railing. What a magic sitcom moment this could have been! Get those hands dirty, kid! Both went down the slide, and great fun was had.

They took a bath together. Audrey started splashing water everywhere. Cousin realized this was great fun, and it's okay to make a bit of a mess from time to time, so pretty soon they were both shrieking and splashing. Get outside your comfort zone, kid! Soak that bathroom.

They were sitting in their high chairs eating lunch, which was some of the same spaghetti from the night before. Audrey stuck her finger in a ziti noodle and realized that it fit perfectly over her whole finger. She was elated, and soon had ziti gloves over most of her hand. Cousin saw this, and shocked us all by ... putting her finger through a ziti noodle too. SHE GOT ACTUAL RED SAUCE ON HER HAND, ON PURPOSE, BECAUSE AUDREY DID IT AND IT LOOKED FUN. If this had been a movie, the credits could have rolled.

Do the girls love each other? Absolutely.

Does Cousin get excited about spending time with Audrey? Most definitely.

As soon as Audrey is around, does she start to wonder just exactly why she was so excited to see her in the first place?

... yes.

But that's what cousins are for. :-D

Playing the "leave me the hell alone" game:

Trying to read a nice book together:

What I'm really excited for is to come back and read this post again in a couple of years, when every part of it is still true, except it's Audrey's little brother or sister annoying the shit out of her instead. What goes around comes around, kid. You're getting someone else's dinner on your arm, and you're gonna like it.

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