Saturday, March 15, 2008

The changling

I fear a malicious fairy crept in Paige's bedroom window some time last month and snatched away my dear sweet girl-child, leaving an imp of a fairy baby in her place.

She seems to have developed a trouble-seeking radar, which activates the moment her fat little feet hit the floor. She wakes up, pitter-pats down the hallway, and the radar flips on. I can see it working. She looks left and right across the room, up and down from floor to ceiling until she find her first target: a glass of water left on a low shelf, a spool of thread within reach on the sewing table, an open box of crackers. By the time I've wrestled her away from the first target and dealt with the aftermath, her work on target #2 is well underway.

Her standbys are the desktop computer and my sewing box. If the desk chair is left untucked, her radar flashes wildly, and she bee lines for it. All I have to do is look away for 20 seconds and she's there, standing in the chair, the computer already starting up, and her pudgy fingers clacking away on the keyboard. If I dare forget to close and fasten my sewing box overnight, I'm in for a painful cleanup within first 10 minutes of the morning: tangles of thread, far flung (and dangerous) piles of spilled needles, a colorful scribble of fabric marker on the rug or wall.

This morning she found Owen's box o' writing implements, top wide open. Bad enough it's full of crayons and markers, Owen keeps an ink pad in there, as well. Markers and crayons Paige has plenty of experience with. But an ink pad? Here was something new, something to be pried open, something wet and squishy. I was in the kitchen fixing coffee and John was sitting at the kitchen table with is back to Paige. She was well within eye shot, it's just that she was very, very quiet. (The radar also has a "parent sensor" which warns her to go about her troublemaking silently.)

John spotted her first, and I swear, he sounded a little bit afraid when he called me: "Ashley! Oh crap. Ashley! She's a mess. Oh man. She looks like an animal!"

Her face was blue from forehead to chin, her nose a particularly deep, purplish shade, as if she'd rubbed it in the ink, planning to make nose prints (on the wall, I'd bet). Her hands were covered, too, of course, and her pajamas. And when we laid her on the bathroom floor to strip and wash her, she howled. "Don't cry, wolfgirl," John said. "It's just a bath."

She's forever plotting her next move. She finds days-old food on the floor no matter how well I vacuum. She pulls the cereal boxes down from the cabinet and dumps their contents on the kitchen floor. She eats the cats' dry food, plays in the toilet, sticks other people's toothbrushes in her mouth. And all this even though I am, I swear, a watchful, engaged parent.

My little changling, mouth always sticky from eating some garbage or other, clothes perpetually stained, pants ever droopy, and her twinkling radar-eyes buzzing all over the room.

She's a right mess, an imp with a mullet, a refuser of barrettes, but I dare not take her for a haircut. Lord knows what they'll find under that mop: the mark of the beast, maybe...or a tangled, matted mess of week-old oatmeal.


cbh said...

goodness!!! i kept scrolling down in hopes there would be a picture of your little beast. hysterical! this reminds me of the story of kelly and vaseline!

Anne said...

LOL. Did you get pictures? Reminds me of the time my oldest colored my middle child with so called washable markers he was yellowish/purple for several days.

Phoenix said...

Let me guess...Paige's around 18 months or so? They get that way, one day angels, the next little tazmanian devils.

Mean Mommy said...

Oh yes, exactly. Almost 18 months. I see you've lived through this.

And I wish I'd gotten a picture! I had her in the bath before it occurred to me. Would've made the post that much better, huh?

Katie said...

lol!! There's one in every family. I thought my middle child wouldn't make it to his third birthday, all the daring stunts he pulled, and here he is coming up on 8! My mantra's: 'This, too, shall pass' and 'It's only a season.' Come on, say them with me!

L'oiseau said...

Substitute "Matthew" for "Paige" in this, and you've summed up my day to day

MeanMommyDoc said...

She sounds delightful. Exactly as she should be.

momma's heart said...

Mine is fifteen-months and exactly like this. Delightful though she is, her antics have her on the brink of disaster many times a day. It is exhausting to be "on the lookout" constantly. The toughest part is that my 6 and 4 year old boys aren't as vigilant and forget to close bathroom doors, etc.

I enjoyed catching up with your blog. Beautiful kids! Awesome writing.