do you ever get the feeling…

that your kid is

just fucking with you?

sometimes i feel

like madeline says/does

things just to see if

i’ll actually comply

with her demands.

here’s what

happened last week…

first, let me say

that she has been

the most amazing

little sleeper since

she was two months old

(aside from some awful illnesses and teething).

but recently she’s

started waking up

in the middle of

the night and

yelling for me.

like last sunday

when she woke up

telling me that

her bed was

filled with “‘piders.”

in my stupor

i guessed it was possible

that there were

spiders in her bed,

but after a long

search i came up

with nothing.

no spiders.

no bugs.

nothing.

the next night

i woke

up to her frantically yelling,

“daddy! daddy!”

i rushed into

her room to ensure

there were no

spiders. i knelt down at

her bedside and asked

“what’s wrong?”

she sat up…

“that,” she said pointing

at the open closet door.

“i’m scared of that.”

i closed the door

and she laid

back down,

apparently content that

she woke me

up again.

the next night,

she called for me

again, but after two

nights of this,

i was moving

a little slower

because i was sure

nothing was seriously wrong.

somewhere in the middle of

her yells for

daddy, she mixed in

a “matt! matt!” which

made me worry

that maybe she was

having a bad dream

or something.

i opened up the

door and she was

sitting up,

pointing at the

sea creature painting

on the wall

opposite her face.

“dolphin. starfish. seahorse.”

“what about them, maddy?”

“take them out.”

“take them out of the room?”

“yes. outside.”

i took the painting

off of the wall

and placed it on

the floor

outside her room.

the next night

i heard her screams

and laid in

bed for a minute wondering

what she wanted.

when i opened the door,

her head was

still on the pillow.

this time she said

“too dark, daddy.”

too dark?

she’s never complained

about that before.

“maddy. it’s night time.”

“too dark” she

whined back at me.

i looked back toward

her door

and saw the

robot night light

upside down in the

the socket.

it had been plugged

in to that

spot for almost two

and a half years.

that night,

i turned it on

for the

first time ever.

a night light

shouldn’t make anyone

sad, but

when i flipped that

switch, i remembered the

day i pulled it

out of the paper bag

and showed it to

liz.

it was a few days

before madeine was

born and i had

found the thing

in the hospital

gift shop.

liz

was still less than

thrilled about

my previous robot

purchase, but i hoped

this would make

her laugh.

instead she groaned.

then she told me that

we needed a more

feminine night light

for our daughter’s room.

***

as i closed the

door she said,

“turn it off.”

i opened the

door and switched it off.

“good night, maddy. i love you.”

“i know,” she said.

i pulled the

door closed again

and heard her say

“too dark.”

i opened the door

and switched it

back on.

“i’m going to bed now. i love you.”

once again

she said, “i know.”

and as i pulled

the door closed,

i once again

heard her say,

“turn it off.”

by now my sadness

was gone.

all i could do

was laugh.

i reached in,

turned off the

light and without

a word started

closing the

door again.

this time i heard

maddy say

“i love you, daddy.”

***

these interactions

aren’t just happening

at night…

things are equally interesting

when we’re in the car.

she likes to

drop her toys

and books on

the ground, just out

of reach and yell

for me to pick them

up while driving.

she yells at me

to clap along

to the music.

and she tells

me to sing along

to songs that

she’s learned at

daycare that i’ve

never heard, then

yells at me when

i don’t get the

lyrics right.

and last tuesday

she said

“tickle maddy.”

as i continued

driving, i reached back

and poked her

in the stomach,

making her squeal.

then she said

“grab maddy’s knee.”

i put my hand on

her left knee.

“grab maddy’s other knee.”

i tried to

explain to her

that it was

impossible for me

to do so

while driving.

then she started

to get weird.

“put daddy’s glasses on arm!”

“what?” i said.

obviously annoyed,

she said “look at maddy!”

i looked in

the rearview mirror

to see her sunglasses

resting on her arm.

i removed my

hand from her knee,

took off my

sunglasses and placed

them on my arm.

she seemed happy

with that until

she realized that

my hand was no

longer on her knee.

“daddy! put hand on maddy’s knee!”

with my sunglasses

on my arm,

i reached back

and put my hand back

on her knee.

she laughed,

then said

“daddy! pull up your sleeve!”

i looked in

the rearview mirror

again and saw

the frantic look

in her eye and

heard the kick

of her feet against

the passenger-side seat

that meant she

was serious.

luckily we were

stuck in standstill

traffic on the 5

so i took my

hand off the wheel

and rolled up

my sleeve.

i heard her laugh

a sinister laugh.

then she yelled,

“put on maddy’s tigger hat!”

she handed me

the tigger hat

and i put it

on my head.

so there i was

stuck in

traffic with my

right hand on

her knee, my sunglasses

on my arm

my sleeve rolled up

and an infant-sized

tigger hat on my head.

then she yelled,

“sing pider song.”

that’s where i drew

the line.

but there’s nothing

like hearing her

laugh every

time i comply with

the next order.

or hearing her

say “i love you, daddy”

after i remove

the requested items

from her room.

it feels a bit like

i’m part of some

two year old’s version

of one of those

419 scam baiters making me

do all sorts

of weird shit

just to get back

at me for something.

let’s hope this

is bad as

her revenge gets…

***

(don’t forget the liz logelin foundation is still looking for sponsor, donations and attendees for the celebration of hope gala and the
5k).

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