This is a pink car on a book shelf.
It is the most annoying pink car in the universe. It has a squeaky little cartoon voice that says things like, “Ha Ha Ha Ha!” and “Voom!” and “Here we go,” alternated with a silly little ditty about riding into town in a pink car with the top down, and the more classic and educational “ABC’s.” The slightest turn of the wheels causes one or another of these sounds to burst forth, the volume is loud, and the use of electricity, apparently, very efficient as the batteries have not yet died. The worst part is that the on/off switch is large and meaty and not the least bit hidden, easily found and manipulated by little fingers.
It is a great favorite of Evie and Edmund both, which is why the car has been living on that shelf non-stop since sometime last fall. That is, at least six months, maybe longer.
It was placed there during a visit from Uncle Adam and Aunt Maryanne, much to the consternation of the under-two crowd. They had been fighting over it non-stop for the whole evening, despite being warned that if they couldn’t share it, it would simply get taken away. They couldn’t share, and it did get taken away. Tears and mutual recriminations followed, but not the slightest sign of understanding or repentance, until five minutes later when the whole episode was completely forgotten.
We were none too anxious to have it returned to general population so there it languished through Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, Birthdays, Easter, until one fateful day, a week or so ago.
Kathleen was upstairs, playing with the girls, Ryan was downstairs loading the dishwasher. All of a sudden Evie looked up at the shelf and said, “That’s the pink car. It got taken away because Edmund and I couldn’t share.”
Well, Kathleen and I were flabbergasted. I came to the top of the stairs and shook my head and made some comment about never taking for granted what Evie remembers or doesn’t remember. She didn’t seem to want the car at the time so we just left it there until a few days ago when she said, again out of the blue, “Mommy, may I have the pink car, please.”
So now we are enduring the squeaky cartoon voice every waking hour, but we are content with it. You have to enjoy the parenting victories when they happen.
Evie has inherited Daddy’s habit of retreating into her own little world and ignoring anything that she doesn’t like. Of course one of the things she doesn’t like is being told “no,” or having the relationship between choices and consequences explained to her. She likes to avert her eyes, start humming, kick her legs, spontaneously make up stories about “Cousin Masha…” anything and everything to distract herself from the discipline. We can’t break through her trance without resorting to corporal punishment or physical restraint, and most often those merely escalate the situation and make her pay attention even less, so we have to outwit it or maneuver around her blocks. Most often, we just have to outlast her.
That is the secret weapon of parents, I think. We can be more consistent, and we can last longer. We can afford not to be heard in the moment, we just can never give up repeating ourselves ad nauseum saecula saeculorum Amen. If it requires six months of fermentation in a three-year-old brain for a concept to sink in, so be it. If it takes the next fifteen years, so be it. We’ve got all the time in the world, kiddo. We can afford not to get freaked out in the short term. That’s the toddler’s job, and she does it magnificently. Our job is to keep our perspective and our cool and remember, we got this. One way or another, one day or another, you will get the point. It’s just a matter of time.