Someone once warned me that girls come out of the womb suffering PMS, and I feel a duty to pass along that gem of wisdom. Boys destroy things, girls cry about it. Leta’s case is not just marked by the usual irritability, though, but also by crippling indecision. She’s hungry but it takes so much effort to have someone else put a spoon full of food in her mouth. She wants to throw checkers across the room, but she can’t do that and use the same hands to pull out chunks of her own hair. What to do?
We needed to pick up a few things at the grocery store this morning, and in an effort to distract her we let her push a miniature shopping cart. It gets her walking and helps her forget that air is touching her body and causing misery. But she couldn’t decide whether she wanted to push the cart or scream while hanging from my neck, and eventually I had to lean over in half to push around the miniature cart myself while she clung to my neck and screamed. That way she could do both and I could feel proud at having just been manipulated by a human being who regularly farts in her own bath water.
To quell the screaming Jon handed her a box of Spiderman Gummy Vitamins, and this worked during the four steps we took to the checkout line. But once we tried to pay for the vitamins, once I pried the box out of her hands clamped like an industrial vice around her treasure, the windows boarded themselves up to brace against the outrage.
The man running the checkout stand could tell by the look on my face that he had better scan that box of delicious gummy vitamins faster than any gummy vitamin has the right to be scanned. As he handed the box back to our trembling child Jon said loud enough so that anyone parking their car in the basement below the building could hear, “Leta, you have to participate in society. You have to pay for things. It’s called COMMERCE. Can you say COMMERCE?”
“No,” I said for her, having just circled a grocery store carrying my offspring around my neck like a figure toward the middle of the evolutionary chart. “But she can say, ‘DADDY IS A DORK.’”
“You’re going to start your period soon, aren’t you.”
“I guess you could say that Leta and I are synchronized.”