The Mirror Lickers
Two and a half years ago, I brought home a blue eyed angel face. Since meeting her on that first day, I've come to realize that her angelic looks ... work as some sort of defense mechanism. Because - woof. She isn't (always) as sweet as she looks - she must have listened to too much Taylor Swift in the womb, or something. Cause darling she's a nightmare, dressed like a daydream.*
She was colic the first 4 1/2 months of her life - and well, truthfully, she may still be colic. Though, I'm not sure that's the term being used for toddlers. Nowadays doctors throw around technical terms like, "Lucky you. She's strong willed." Whatever you call it, she's been a screamer. Since the very start.
Navy is my life's curve ball: I didn't see her coming and she smacked me right in the face. We didn't expect to have a second kiddo (or a third!) after Jet, so it only makes sense that her whole existence is dynamic, like that of a great surprise.
But. Also. She's cray. Like, for real.
I remember long ago, somebody telling me that I was "so lucky" to have such a marvelously behaved child. They were talking about Navy. This person knew me through social media, and I felt like I had betrayed the world with this misconception. Nay Nay is gorgeous, she is spirited, she makes everything in my life burst with color, but she is absolutely NOT well behaved. She has frayed the ends to any prior belief in myself that I had this parenting gig figured out. No, I take that back. She did not fray the ends ... she doused them in kerosine and threw them into the dumpster fire that is most of our days. In the event that you have ever believed that my cherub faced baby girl is, or has ever been even remotely chill, I apologize. Here's a glimpse into our reality outside of the Instagram square ...
I homeschool. But ONLY, as a non negotiable rule, when Navy is asleep. On the rare (and thankfully few) days when she refuses a nap, we do not pass go. We do not collect $200. We do not do school. Any attempts at schoolwork done in her presence - feels like playing the game "Nureosurgery in a tornado". It's loud. Things are flying. Papers get scattered ... The sirens are alarming. Your eyes widen like Bill Paxton as somebody mutters, "COW". It doesn't work. Somebody's brain is gonna get hurt. (It's always mine.)
Saying no to this child ... I do it all day long. It is fruitless. She isn't bad, she isn't naughty, she just DGAF, and she isn't about to let me, or anybody else for that matter, get in the way of what she wants. I say no chocolate? Her little ingenue tuckas will master a way up to the counter, or into the pantry. I'm not even kidding when I tell you that we have baby locks ON the baby locks. (For real) She's a mastermind. Or maybe a white collar criminal in the making? Nay Nay gets, what Nay Nay wants. It's exhausting. But also, exhilarating - imagining how this will translate when she is an adult. Maybe also terrifying.
Our house is a zoo, and you-know-who is the monkey exhibit. She's tucks treats, toys, and snacks into air vents. When I'm not looking, she strips down and pees and poops in a myriad of places. (Top honors go to peeing in the dishwasher. And pooping on a book. That I didn't discover. For a day.) She refuses a spoon and eats with her fingers - any residue is later used as wall paint. The chalkwall is for occasional licks. Or spits. Which get turned into saliva finger painting masterpieces. She doesn't talk, she yells. Exclusively. She uses my stomach as a trampoline. If I'm not paying attention, she will assault my eyeballs by prying them open with her sticky little fingers. She asks for hugs, but it's code for "pick me up and take me to the pantry". She won't eat anything healthy. She kind of won't eat anything at all, but we do still try - for the record. She uses my very pitiful and exhausted boobies as her "lovey" or comfort, and routinely stashes her hands down my shirt. It hurts, and is fairly inconvenient for the other kiddo that is trying to nurse not for pleasure but you know, for sustenance. She occasionally tries to nurse. Or bite. Or pinch. She also licks diaper cream, and applies it to her face like war paint. These are routine experiences - not extreme ones.
So, she's feral. And it's concerning and thrilling and fun and endlessly entertaining. We've been to the doctor to make sure all the marbles are there - they are. (Mine, not so much.) So we drudge through the hard, and try. I often feel defeated. I often feel like a failure. Reliving my experience with Jet, or comparing this journey to that of other kiddies her age ... makes me worry that we are messing everything up. She won't (not can't. Won't.) talk. She won't stay on task. She's in a ballet class and while most of the girls are pointing toes and twirling, Navy is in the corner. Hiding under mats or licking the mirror. She's just - different. And ... I couldn't love her more.
As I lay here writing this, she is laying next to me. Her head on my shoulder, her hand stashed down my shirt. She loves me. I am her world. And, what she doesn't quite yet know ... she's mine, too. (More of a Jupiter than an Earth, since I'm a little disoriented. But also because the love is so big!)
Some parents get dealt the easy kind. I have two easy bambinos in my trilogy. Not everyone is handed the "WTF IS HAPPENING RIGHT NOW" hand. But we are out there. A small few, who anxiously look up and see sympathetic eyes offering solidarity during the public tantrums. Reminding us that they have "been there" when we feel like the worst of the worst. And they came out okay.
So yeah. Potty training isn't going well. Talking isn't going well. General sanity - isn't going well. But I know it will all even out eventually. She won't feel me up for forever, or wear a diaper, or decide it's finally time to take a pacifier. And let's for sure hope she outgrows spitting juice down the air vents - I'm really not a fan of that little trick. I know that not everybody gets a mirror licker ... but ... I'm sure glad I did.
*Props to T-Swizzle for these lyrics. Please don't sue me. We all know they're yours.