Feeding an obsession

On Friday morning we dropped Leta off at my mother’s house so that we could spend a few hours snowboarding, and when we returned she was clutching a Cinderella DVD to her chest, her knuckles white from the strain. I looked disapprovingly at my mother because I had given her explicit instructions before we left that she was not to give Leta anything to take home: no Avon catalogs, no used plastic baby dolls with missing limbs, no purses stuffed with napkins and chapstick. If Leta spends more than a single minute with my mother she will walk away with some sort of useless treasure, and we are running out of places to stash all this junk. If you were to go downstairs right now and peek inside Leta’s closet, a towering mountain of old bank statements and empty gum wrappers would fall out and bury you alive, and instead of checking to see if you’re still breathing Leta would scream YOU’RE TOUCHING MY STUFF!

So we took the Cinderella DVD home, and I’m not even embarrassed to admit this, she watched that movie seven times the next day. Seven times all the way through. Normally she gets bored about two minutes into a video and demands to watch something else, and when that obnoxious whining starts one of us will look at the other and ask, “Do you hear something?” And the other one will go, “No, what does it sound like?” And then we’ll both look around to find the source of the raucous until we finally realize, why of course! It is our three-year-old complaining once again about the inconvenience of life, as if having to sit through the last 20 minutes of a cartoon is as distressing as being brutally forced from your home by the vicious Janjaweed. Lesson for today is: YOU ARE ROUTINELY BEING FED, NOW SHUT UP.

She is enthralled with princesses now, and anything that is sparkly or pink is considered princessful and worthy to princess (noun, adjective, verb). Yesterday when we picked her up from school she was carrying around an empty snack bag that had a princess face on one side, something given to her by her teacher as an after-lunch treat. When I asked her what she was holding she said, “A princess snack,” except it sounded like this: “THE MEANING OF LIFE.” And since we were headed to the grocery store anyway, I told her we could look for some when we got there, so here, take my hand and let’s walk to the car. She looked up at me lovingly and said, “You are my friend,” except it sounded like this, “I like you right now because you are giving me what I want. Later I will probably bite you.”

We found the princess fruit snacks at the store, although using the word fruit here is a bit generous. I would have gone with polycarbonate snack, but I guess that would require more ink and less lying. Whatever. We bought two boxes and she carried them throughout the store, out to the car and in her lap on the ride home, and every three seconds she would point to the side of the box and ask, “What does this say, Mama?” I hate it when she does this, because Mama has a tendency to throw up when she turns around in moving vehicles, and not just because Mama makes Mama ill when she refers to herself in third person.

So I make stuff up. Just start rattling off what I think the side of the box would say. Its says PRINCESS SNACKS, Leta. And that? What does that say? It says FRUIT FLAVORED. And that? That says CINDERELLA SUCKS. SIT ON IT. And then Jon and I high-five each other in the front seat.