I’m not bragging when I claim that I am a patient man. Really patient. And really calm. When I did basic training in the military, I’d already learned how to stand still and keep my mouth shut. Calling me a maggot and suggesting that I’d be better off doing unmentionable things to myself in a dung heap doesn’t really bother me.
So it baffles me how my five year old can turn me into a raving maniac. There is no way that a grown man whose been through powerful life changing challenges, hiked up mountainsides in the middle of the night carrying an 80 pound pack, been an HR manager in a ruthless nasty company dealing with criminals and drug addicts (incidentally the criminals were much nicer than management) should be powerless in arguing with a child.
I’ve already known that Maya is the Jedi Master of finding someone’s weakness and pushing their buttons. Clearly she is a Sith. I’ve watched her turn Milo, four years her senior, into a crying mess. I’ve seen her repeat a single line of a song so many times that I had to put my wife out of the car at the side of the road to protect everyone present. But I’ve always felt immune to her mojo.
Naturally, as any student of the classics knows, hubris brings down the wrath of the gods. I should have seen my time coming but that’s how hubris goes I guess. But doesn’t it just destroy any rationality to go through exchanges like this:
The scene: I’ve raced home from work and I am slaving like a house elf to get dinner on the table before Milo needs to be chauffeured to one of his many weeknight activities.
The Cast: Me, Maya (just arrived home and hell bent of having a snack), Milo (just arrived home and hell bent of watching as much TV as possible before dinner)
Maya: I’m hungry.
Me: I’m making dinner right now. You can eat in 10 minutes.
Maya: (beginning to whine) But I’m hungry… I’m hungry now.
Me: Why don’t you set the table and that will get food to you quicker.
Maya: (bursting into tears) I’m hungry. I want a snack. I want bread and butter.
Me: (knowing full well that bread and butter destroys all dinner consumption) No.
Maya: (full out screaming with two fingers in her mouth to distort what ever she says) I hate you. I hate my father. I’m hungry.
Me: (strongly resisting the urge to scream “I hate you back” because I’ll feel bad later) Just go away while I make dinner. (since I’m getting excited I begin to chop the salad with my biggest knife like an IronChef)
Maya: (fingers still in mouth) What are we having for dinner?
Me: Steak with mashed potatoes and a salad.
Maya: (ratchets up the up the whining) I hate potatoes and I hate salad. I want bread and butter. (begins to scream and wail like an Italian widow at a funeral)
Me: (clenching my teeth and trying not to chop through the cutting board) Tough. If you don’t eat it then you aren’t hungry.
Maya: I hate it. I hate you.
Me: (yelling up the stairs) Milo… I need you to set the table.
Milo: (since I did not appear on the TV to issue the summons, he does not respond)
Me: (louder) Milo. Where are you?
Maya: He’s watching TV and I’m hungry and I won’t eat potatoes. I want bread and butter now!!!
Milo: (from the top of the stairs, avoiding eye contact and hoping I won’t notice him since he isn’t whining) Did you call me?
Me: (undergo a metamorphosis similar to Bruce Banner becoming the Hulk)
“LEAVE ME ALONE! I’LL DO IT ALL MYSELF. I DON’T CARE JUST GO AWAY ALL OF YOU!!!! AHHHHH!!!”
Everyone scatters and I finish dinner is less time that the whole argument took and calm down. We all sit for dinner and Maya says “Where’s my bread and butter?”
Maybe if I put a bag over my head I’ll be protected from the evil influences or maybe a tin foil cap. I try some things and get back to you.