Toddlers are unpredictable and shatteringly illogical, in an irritatingly logical way.
I am a great proponent of the ‘try to see it from their perspective whenever possible’ mantra. They have narrow frames of reference, incomplete life experience and minimal access to wikipedia. Many of the rules that govern their little lives are built on context, assumed knowledge and nuance. None of which they are particularly great at.
Take food for example. Without Harold the Healthy Giraffe (RIP), the Ribena Berries and Tony the Tiger, none of which are yet accessible to Milo, how would we know what is healthy and what is not? A cookie is undoubtedly tastier to eat than a tree of broccoli. When, as an adult, you choose to eat that tree taste is playing only a minor role in your overall deliberation. What care Milo for these deliberations? Milo knows very little about dietary fiber, pantothenic acid, vitamin B6, vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acids, and what he knows he doesn’t care for. So when we try to sell an argument that he needs to eat (insert arbitrary number) of broccoli trees before he can have a small fragment of cookie the whole thing must seem spurious, illogical, and frankly a little cruel. Two broccoli trees equals the upper portion of a kinder-surprise? Why? Over time our toddlers accept this devil’s compromise; but they never understand it, they never like it, and they never forgive us for wielding our power so capriciously.
There is no event that requires a more honest and consistent reflection on the ‘try to see it from their perspective’ mantra than introducing a new baby into a home already inhabited by a toddler.
About 4 months ago Kuepps (my wife) mentioned to me 2 or 3 times that later in the year she would be bringing home another man to live with us, another husband essentially with whom we would be sharing our lives from that point forward. I wasn’t really paying attention as I was building a wicked train track at the time, and besides the whole thing seemed esoteric, unlikely, and future-Jupes’ problem.
Kuepps mentioned this idea to me a few times at irregular intervals over the ensuing months. Each time I expressed my general displeasure with the idea but on reflection I must say I had the feeling my perspective wasn’t being given full consideration. The whole concept gave me a feeling of uneasiness but I continued to presume that something so outlandish and clearly damaging to our rather enjoyable and peaceful existence was very unlikely to happen.
About a week ago Kuepps dropped me at my mother-in-law’s house where I stayed for 2 nights. It was a bit weird, not a usual occurrence, and I was given no real explanation beyond “won’t it be fun to stay with your mother-in-law?” Not really, but they have quite good pastries and the whole thing was pleasant enough.
On the second morning I returned home looking forward to spending a little time with my wife, eating some smoked salmon, building a sweet tower out of Duplo and sharing some rather humorous anecdotes from my small trip away. When I arrived home I was quickly deflated however because there, sat on my couch with my wife, was a man. “Hi Jupes, how are you?” My wife said, in a voice so sweet it made me think something was up; “This is Colin, our new husband, isn’t he beautiful?”
What??!! No! He’s not beautiful at all, and hang on – what??!! I stayed where I was and had a good look at Colin. He was a bit younger than me, but looked eerily similar. He was ignoring me completely, didn’t even cast a look in my direction. I could tell immediately he was a bit of a dick. My world was spinning and Colin just sat there, dribbling on himself, looking lecherously up at my wife, occasionally clambering at her bosom in a gratuitous and entirely unseemly way. I was shattered.
“Oh look Jupes, Colin got you a terrific gift” I turned my head to the kitchen bench upon which sat a garishly wrapped gift of some kind. “Go on, open it!” Kuepps encouraged. Dumbfounded, I stumbled over to the kitchen and unwrapped it, a nice coffee machine. “Do you like it??” It was nice I must admit, but I could tell Colin had played no part in its procurement. He didn’t seem like a guy who would know anything about coffee machines. “Say thank you to Colin”.
“Thanks Colin”, I muttered, and slumped into my chair, head in my hands. Kuepps continued the charm offensive; “Isn’t it wonderful to have another man in the house? In time you and Colin are going to best friends!”
What!!?? That is absolutely not going to happen. Colin is clearly utterly self-involved, lascivious and arguably incontinent. I am not sharing anything with him, let alone my wife! As I was reaching for my mobile to call Colin a taxi my mum arrived, brushed past me and headed straight for Colin.
My mum then demanded to cuddle Colin and when she had pried him away from Kuepps she did this sickening little bobbing dance with him whilst continuously complimenting my wife on being so clever. What is this?? How could my own mother be so utterly unsympathetic to my situation. MY WIFE HAS JUST BROUGHT THIS STRANGE MAN COLIN INTO MY HOUSE, WHY IS EVERYBODY OK WITH THIS??
Eventually my mother stopped dancing with this strange man and then asked whether I would like to have Colin on my lap for a photo. Of course I don’t bloody well want Colin on my lap for a photo. I want Colin out of my house. At that point the rest of my family arrived, all in a buoyant mood despite the fact my world was collapsing around me. Somebody, I can’t even remember who, picked Colin up by his waist and dropped him down on my lap. “Smile Jupes” everybody was saying as they crowded around me for a photograph – nobody seemed to be insisting that Colin do anything; he just lay there, like a privileged, slightly orange, plump little interloper, waving his ill-proportioned little arms and legs around like he was having a seizure. The whole thing was a nightmare. I felt discombobulated, vulnerable and humiliated.
Over the following week things did not improve. I barely saw Kuepps; she and Colin would routinely disappear into the bedroom where they would giggle for hours. No Kuepps at bath time, no Kuepps at bed time, no Kuepps at all.
Colin. Has. Ruined. Everything.
…and that is why Milo has been afforded significant leeway for his transgressions over the past week. Considering the cataclysmic shift he has endured he is performing extremely well and both he and his brother Monty (not Colin) are learning slowly how to co-exist, and will in short order, I am positive, commence their allied overthrow of the house.