A Taste of Karma

Parenting experts (and grandparents, fellow mothers, random strangers at every play place/library/church service/grocery store) have lots of opinions on what to do when your child misbehaves or otherwise chooses not to do what you ask of him. Redirection. Yelling. Time outs. Making games out of chores or tasks. Spanking. Encouraging them to talk about how they feel and not being frustrated when their only answer is “gassy” as they airplane-run into another room.

Every method has its advantages and disadvantages, and approximately none of them ever really work on a toddler. My toddlers, at least. But lately, I’ve noticed that sometimes the universe steps in and picks up where the permissive/authoritative debate falls short. It’s called karma, and I’m thrilled to report that unlike the responsibility of chiseling crushed pretzels out of car seats, kids are not exempt.

Tonight, our family has been invited to my husband’s company party at his boss’ house, so naturally, our son has elected not to nap. Despite our best efforts at making sure he would be tired enough (breakfast at a restaurant, trip to the zoo where he ran the whole time outside of the $200 luxury baby wagon we purchased specifically for zoo trips, and lots of time at a playground), he made it clear that there would be no settling down this afternoon. We gently reminded him several times how important it is for him to rest, so that he feels good later today and isn’t cranky at the party. Almost every other day, he takes at least a two-hour nap, so we know he needs it — and the effort he puts in to avoiding naps on days like today is what the medical community refers to as “BS.”

As an aside, we made the decision when our first was born to invest in video monitors, because apparently we hate sleeping.

As the afternoon rolls by, we occasionally check in on the video monitor to find that he’s still jumping on the bed, rolling a toy car on the wall, plotting ways to make sure he stands out as the worst-behaved toddler at the party tonight. (Can they take house party damages out of employees’ annual bonuses?)

And then at some point, I notice him pulling something out from under his bed before sitting back down to examine it. It’s rectangular, about the size of an iPhone, but my husband and I both check to make sure ours are still securely our own hands. Is it a tiny book? A cardboard box? We figure Meh, how bad can it be? And then I see him lick it.

He licks it again, then wipes it on his bed. Then licks and wipes. Then brushes off his bed, and starts over. This is the portion of the essay I call WHATTHECRAPISTHATGOUPSTAIRSANDFIGURETHATSHITOUTBECAUSEWTF.

My husband goes up to the room and I see him immediately pull this mystery block away from my son and throw up the WTF hands before covering him with his blanket and leaving.

He stops at the top of the steps to make sure I see him angrily gesturing as he holds this thing up, like it’s a canister of some chemical warfare agent that I accidentally strapped to our innocent, sleeping child.

“A MISTER PUMICE, CATH. A USED MISTER FUCKING PUMICE.”

I laughed until I peed my pants three minutes later. He may get the last laugh tonight at the party, but in this moment, karma has won.

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