Baby A sits on the floor, drumming her plastic chicken leg against it as she contemplated her nemesis: the carbon monoxide detector. It taunts her daily. She loves to look at the green indicator light and poke at it, and whack it with the chicken leg. Then she will promptly rip the device from the wall. The detector then emits an ear splitting shriek, causing Baby A to shake it wildly over her head and sob. We run over and plug it back in, comfort Baby A, and then they resume their staring contest. I can see Baby A thinking about it. We could be friends; I don’t know why you insist on yelling at me all the time. But one of these days I’ll defeat you.
This goes on day after day. I keep thinking that as much as she hates the noise, she’d learn not to unplug it. She never seems to. Her father and sister show the same tenacity; they have to try everything about ten times before they decide it’s a bad idea.
M has a nemesis, too, and she’ll see him when she goes back to school this week. He is The Boy With the Green Backpack (henceforth known as TBWTGB). M calls him this. When I asked if he had a name, she said, “No, he’s too mean to have a name.” I’ve seen this kid at the bus; he’s third grader who does, in fact, have a bright green backpack. He’s the type who likes to taunt the younger children and laughs wildly at his own jokes. I had to explain to M that unfortunately, some people are just jerks, and she has to learn to handle them.
I admit, the mom in me wants to punt this kid down the hill, but I don’t get involved. I know if it gets bad enough, M will take it up with the bus driver or her teacher; M does not let anyone disrespect her. She’s already rallied all the other kindergartners to her defense; it’s a good thing they don’t have access to torches and pitchforks.
I’m hoping, though, that it will be better for her from here on out. Before Christmas break, M went out to the bus stop wearing a knitted Hello Kitty hat that she loves. She ran over to play with her friends and they were running around. In the bus line, I overheard a conversation between TBWTGB and an older boy, Q.
TBWTGB: Oh my god, those kids are SO weird. Aren’t they weird? Like, that hat. So weird.
Q: The Hello Kitty kid?
TBWTGB: Yeah. She’s a total weirdo.
Q: Isn’t that the kid that was Medusa for Halloween? Cause that was awesome. (M was, in fact, a glittery Medusa for Halloween)
TBWTGB: Was that her? Oh yeah…I guess it was.
Q: Yeah. That was awesome. And she’s only like five.
TBWTGB: (nervous) Yeah. But–
Q: Besides, her hat is way cooler than your backpack.
It took the wind right out of his sails. No one is going to argue with a fourth grader whose Ninja Turtle backpack lights up.
M has learned a lesson already that I wish I had known as a child: no matter what, wear what you like, do what suits you, and the others will come around. And if they don’t, they’re just jerks. Hopefully, Baby A will learn this too, because I doubt that picking up bullies and shaking them while screaming would work. Although, I guess if she’s bad-ass enough to that, it might.