Miss Manners

Marlo is at that stage in life where the frustration that results from the inability to communicate through words is making life miserable for the entire family. I remember when this started to happen with Leta, right when she was the same age that Marlo is now, when she’d point at something and moan. When we didn’t know what she was talking about she’d just moan louder, except this time some supernatural force would have thrown her body fifteen feet across the room and was causing her hands and feet to kick the floor.

We called an exorcist and all he did was give us the number of a day care.

At the time Leta was also undergoing occupational therapy for her slow gross motor skills (she wasn’t yet walking and hated putting weight on her feet), and they suggested we try teaching her sign language for some basic words: please, thank you, more, etc. Without the consent of her therapist we slipped in: crazy, something stinks, and screw you.

It think it took a whole two months, but finally after one giant standoff where she was in the high chair and wanted to get out, she reluctantly rubbed the top of her her chest in a circular motion (sign language for please) and yelled, “EETHKAHHHHH!”

Ethkah. Translation: You know exactly what the hell I want, dickhead.

Marlo has been just as stubborn to learn sign language and ask for things nicely. We know she has a working vocabulary because she refers to everyone by name. Well, except Chuck. She refers to Chuck as Coco. But I’m pretty sure she thinks Coco means dog, but Chuck is still taking it personally. Like, first we brought another of of “those” home. Second, this one actually likes to touch him. And finally, she can’t even get his name right? Now, why is he not supposed to bite her again?

But then came Halloween! And chocolate! And one bright idea that should have occurred to us years ago, but I can’t even blame the partying I did in college for not thinking of it earlier. Fine, I’ll blame the partying I did after college. The partying we still sometimes engage in when Grandmommy is watching the kids, except now it’s a little less illegal and we’re in bed by 8:30.

I fed Marlo a tiny piece of a chocolate bar while waiting for trick-or-treaters to stop by, and then I refused to give her another piece until she asked nicely. Over and over again I showed her how, rubbing my chest, saying please. I kid you not, she stood there looking at me like I was a moron, as condescending as an almost seventeen-month-old can be, and then she looked around the room to make sure no one was looking. THIS SHIT IS NOT MADE UP.

She didn’t want anyone to see that she was going to cooperate.

You guys, Hollywood is going to make an action movie in the future wherein the villain is based on Marlo Armstrong. Whoever writes it, please give her a mouth full of teeth made out of titanium.

And then she did it so quickly I almost missed it. The tiniest rub of her chest. And then the look in her eyes was hurry, someone could show up any second. These tiny chest rubs continued as did the quick side glances of her surroundings until she’d eaten the whole bar.

Behold my restraint: I didn’t stick out my tongue and yell SUCKER!