Alternative methods

We’re eating breakfast when Leta accidentally drops a Cheerio on the floor. With her mouth full of food she hops out of her chair to go looking for it, and when she can’t find it she starts wailing incoherently, something about how it’s lost forever and she cannot go on living if forced to face such a reality. Jon and I have to try really hard not to laugh because every time she mouths a weepy syllable a chunk of soggy, half-chewed cereal falls out of her mouth onto her pajamas.

This goes on, and then on and on and on, and since we woke up only ten minutes ago our instinct is to pick her up by her ankles, turn her upside down and hold her there until gravity forces her jaw to close. Finally, all those hours of studying science in high school? Who knew they would come in handy!

I’m almost too tired to turn around, so I look at Jon to see if he has any ideas. He shrugs but then catches himself and says, “You know, we have to be going about this all wrong. Talking her through this crisis takes a lot of patience, and we haven’t even had coffee yet. We need a better technique, like a hand gesture or a sound so authoritative that it stops her tantrums instantly.”

“Like a TCHHHH?”

“Yeah, like a TCHHHH! And then we poke her in the neck with the tips of our fingers. To show her we mean it.”

“Like Cesar?”

“Like Cesar.”

“We’ll drop one of her Cheerios on the floor, and the moment she starts to freak out we’ll TCHHHH! her. She’ll learn in no time.”

“Exactly! We’ll keep her mind moving forward. This will totally work.”

“Exercise, discipline, and then affection, remember? This is why she’s so belligerent. We’re telling her we love her before she scrubs the toilets. It should be the other way around.”

“To think it was this simple all along.”