Yesterday Leta didn’t take a nap. She acted like she was going to when I put her in the crib by collapsing into the corner and plugging her thumb into her mouth. Three minutes later, though, she threw Elmo over the side in protest and began yelling. Official Armstrong Nap Policy dictates that persons must remain in the napping position for at least an hour even if those persons are not sleeping — it’s the first clause underneath Section IV. MAMA IS AN OGRE — so I left her there. Ooooh, can you hear the hate mail being written? The sweet, sweet sound of panties wadding up in a flare of indignation! I guarantee that it will be filled with the use of multiple punctuation marks and some variation on this theme: Why did you have a child if all you were going to do was abandon her?
Duh. Tax deduction!
After ten consecutive minutes of yelling Leta began beating the mattress with her fists. I understood that she was upset, but I had a hard time not laughing because the sound was so pitiful. Did she think that she was being intimidating? I WILL BEAT THIS SOFT SURFACE WITH MY PLUM-SIZED FISTS UNTIL YOU TAKE ME SERIOUSLY. Then she started shaking the side of the crib and trying to move it around the room on its wheels. Again, a little ambitious. The kid has a hard time remaining upright in front of an oscillating fan, she’s not going to budge a piece of furniture 10 times her size.
Jon set out to run an errand several minutes after I put her down for the nap, and thirty minutes later when he returned she was still hollering and objecting to being treated like a toddler. I had become increasingly anxious during the hour, reminded of the six months of my life when the only noise that came out of her mouth was UNBEARABLE DISCONTENT which sounds a lot like a howler monkey being roasted alive, and when Jon walked in the door I let out a, “JooooOOOOOOONNNN!” It hit him in the face like an object being thrown across the room.
He came running to the bedroom where I was playing this game of chicken with our tax deduction, and said, “What? Why are you screaming at me?”
“YOUR DAUGHTER IS NOT SLEEPING.”
Hearing the pitter patter of her fists against the bed sheet he said, “I see that, but why are you yelling? What do you want me to do about it?”
“Why couldn’t you have asked me more calmly? You could have said, ‘Jon, the baby won’t go to sleep,’ and that would have been much more helpful than, “JJJHHHHHOOOOOOONNNNNNNAAGHHHHHH,” which just sounds like you’re dying.”
All of a sudden I noticed that the area around Leta’s room was silent. She had stopped wrecking her cage so that she could listen to us, and I imagined that she was leaning as far over the crib as possible to get a better angle. I started to feel a tad guilty with the realization that she wasn’t just observing the yelling, she was imitating it and then using it against us. I tried to figure out where she had picked up the physical violence — another kid? MTV? church? — when it hit me: her father, he’s a drummer.