Max and Miles who, to Me, Will Always be Secretly Named "Gus"

The blog about Max and his little brother, Miles. Stunningly cute boys and future leaders of the rebel forces.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Unintended Consequences or Lost in Translation

 A while back, in an attempt to motivate Max to clean and simultaneously express the reality on the ground, I urged him to help me pick up his toys because, "A clean house makes Mommy happy. C'mon, Max, let's make Mommy happy!" That day, it actually got the kid to pick up his crap. "Ok!", he responded in the affirmative.

Oh, so cute, you might say. He wants to re-enforce that cleaning makes other people, most importantly, Mommies, happy. What a good, positive motivation to be a picking-up, good boy. And, yes, it worked for a while. Now, he's just old enough and willful enough to know that, pretty much, he'll get ice cream if he walks around the house kicking his toys towards their respective homes.

Recently, though, particularly after he pisses one of us off, he'll ask us if we're happy. As in: excited, pre-bath fun-time in the bathroom; I'm holding Miles; Max is in front of me and we're all doing some fun song and dance routine when I yelp in pain as the little punk (Max) takes a gnarly bite out of my thigh. I love bite, but a bite nontheless.

"Auuuugh! Max, what are you doing?!!"

Max does a nervous jig as I sit down on the toilet with Miles.

"Owwww! Max, that really hurt Daddy."

Max, hopefully: "Daddy? You are happy?"

Now, as much as this will make Katie do a spit-take of whatever she's drinking when she reads this, when it comes to questions like this from a three year-old, even one that just bit me, I'm not much for black-and-white answers.

Am I happy? We're underwater on our mortgage and crazy in debt. Am I happy? I kinda, sort of willfully, failed at a pottery/teaching career. I am happy? Now I work at Costco and we struggle to pay all our bills each month. Am I happy? I am married to an incredibly beautiful, fantastically funny and tolerant woman. Am I happy? We drive old Volvos that regularly don't start. Am I happy? We have an amazing group of the coolest and most generous friends that anyone, in their wildest dreams, could ever hope to have. Am I happy? Our families are crazy but mostly dope and also do a lot of free baby-sitting. Am I happy? I have somehow been part of reproducing two healthy, astonishingly cute, generally comical humans. Am I happy?

So I sit there on the toilet, rubbing a spot that, days later, is still red and bruised, holding my second child, looking at the oldest one: the biter and the bite-ee.

"Daddy? You are happy?"

"Yes, Max, I'm happy. But I'd be happier if you didn't bite me."

"Ok! Yeah! Sure!"
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