Friday, January 23, 2015

Matilda, the Baby, and Me

For Christmas, the Baby received a Kindle from my in-laws. They were incredibly generous with the children's gifts, which was much appreciated since the K has us all on austerity measures because of his new job. The Baby is obsessed with the Kindle and takes it with her everywhere. The Kindle was supposed to be a reward for learning how to read, although it is debatable that she's reached this milestone. But, if you listened to her struggle through all 15 pages of Paw Patrol's Chase is on the Case in 20 minutes, while sounding out every other word, you'd agree that someone deserves a reward.

Now, does she use the Kindle to read books? Of course not! She plays some creepy princess beauty parlor game, the free version of which assigns you a wrung-out looking princess with ashy skin and bags under her eyes who you spray, scrub, smooth, and spritz until she looks good enough to go shopping at Walmart. You can't get rid of all your princess's flaws unless you buy (with actual, real money) additional products and treatments. To which I say, Nope! The princess should not worry about her appearance, because it's what's inside that counts. The Baby responds by glaring at me and then at the imperfect virtual princess, probably thinking that the princess's insides are not part of the game.

When she's not saying, "meh, I guess you'll do," to princesses on the Kindle, she's watching movies. Her favorite movie is Matilda. In case you're not familiar with Matilda, it is based on the Roald Dahl book and is about a brilliant little girl, Matilda Wormwood, who is misunderstood, unappreciated, and badly treated by her tacky, ignorant parents and older brother. Matilda's father enrolls her in a school run by the evil Miss Trunchbull, who belittles and bullies all the children. The one kind adult in the book is Matilda's teacher, Miss Honey. Eventually, Matilda realizes that she has telekinetic powers which she uses to vanquish Miss Trunchbull. When Matilda's parents flee to Guam to avoid being arrested for scamming customers at her father's used car dealership, Miss Honey adopts her and they live happily ever after. The movie stars Mara Wilson as the title character and Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman as her terrible parents.

At first I was unbothered by the fact that the Baby clearly identified strongly with Matilda and her persecution by all the despicable adults in her life. But, as her obsession grew, I started feeling defensive. I mean, I can totally see the similarities between the K and Danny DeVito. Used car salesman, lawyer - potato, potato, I say. Other than a 15 inch height difference, they're practically the same person. But, I'm an understanding, patient, saintly parent, nothing like Matilda's tacky, superficial mother. *Ahem* But, I didn't think that the Baby's Matilda binging would cause any harm. Sure, she might attempt to move objects with her mind, and maybe Miss Trunchbull's appearance would give her nightmares:

And that's her good side.

but I never could have predicted the lasting impact that Matilda would have on her.

 A couple of days before holiday break was over, Mom and Hello Puppy came over for dinner. We had finished eating, Hello Puppy and Dog were tussling around in the kitchen, and the K, Mom, and I chatted at the dining room table. The Girl had just learned to make yarn pom-pons, so she kept coming downstairs from her room to show us her creations. I was secretly grateful that the skein of yarn (so that's how you spell 'skein') that I bought when she insisted that she wanted to learn to knit (which ended quicker than you can say, "cast on") was being put to good use.

After making a bunch of pom-pons, I guess the Girl lost interest because the next thing I knew, the dogs were playing tug-of-war with the skein of yarn, which they must have fetched from the Girl's bedroom. I chased the dogs around between the living room and dining room, trying to get the yarn away from them. The dogs thought it was all an awesomely fun game, so they ran away so that we could keep playing. Ha, ha, ha. Dogs! I finally got the yarn and was about to tell the Girl to keep her things away from the dogs, and vice versa, when I heard the K shout, "oh no!" from our bathroom. The Baby shot by me like a streak and ran upstairs, slamming the door to her room behind her.

This is often the way it is around our house. You're dealing with what you think must be the real crisis, but it's really just a distraction, a little side skirmish, and the big battle is out on the horizon and you have no idea that it's coming. I walked towards the bathroom and was hit with an overpowering smell, but not the kind you usually associate with bathrooms. The countertop was strewn with all of our toiletries. I'm not saying it's typically clean, but this looked like someone was interrupted mid-counter-sweep and just left everything where it fell. The K was rooting through the trash can.

"Oh, God. What is that smell?" I asked.
"Blue tansy?" said the K,
"Whaaaatttt???" The smell was reminiscent of Bath & Body Works or Yankee Candle, but 1000 times more intense.
"It's an essential oil. For aromatherapy." I just stared at him. "It's supposed to relieve stress and irritation."
"It's not working."
"You're only supposed to use a few drops. It's really expensive." (Side note: Apparently an exception to the previously-mentioned austerity measures is buying essential oils.)
"Who did this? What happened?" I asked, trying to make sense of the scene. The K located the blue tansy bottle in the garbage. "Thank goodness. There's still a lot left. She didn't use all of it."
"The Baby?"
"Yeah, when I came in, she was putting all sorts of lotions in her hair...and the blue tansy. Oh, shit. I'd better see if it's toxic." He went over to the laptop where he was the first person in Georgia to Google, "is blue tansy poisonous?"
"I guess I should go check on her," I said, but only because that's my job. It was certainly not because I wanted to.

The Baby had locked her door, but since she shares a Jack and Jill (in this case, a Jill and Jill) bathroom with the Girl, I tried the bathroom door. As I walked through the bathroom, I glanced at the garbage can and my stomach dropped. There, in the very full garbage can (do I have to do everything around here?) was this:

I looked at the counter and there were the scissors that the Girl had used to make her yarn pom-pons, sitting right next to another pile of blonde hair. I knocked on the Baby's door.

"Go away!"
"Sweetie, I'm not mad. I just want to make sure you're okay."
"I said, go away!"
"I'm worried because something that you used in the bathroom might not be good to get on your skin. The stuff in the little bottle?" This was a lie, but I thought it would get her to open the door, which it did. She cracked the door open an inch and peered at me. I could see that her hair wasn't blue, but I couldn't tell if it had been cut, because it was slick and shiny looking. I suspected that she had put some combination of lotions, creams, and ointments that she'd found in our bathroom on her hair to disguise the fact that she cut it.
"Go away!"
"I think it would be a good idea to wash out your hair, okay? I would hate for your skin to start hurting."
"Oh, fine. Okay," she said, grumpily. She opened the door and I got the full view. I tried not to stare at the oily mess perched on the top of her head that bore a passing resemblance to an otter. Sigh. Damn it. I was totally convinced that the mess in the bathroom was IT. That was supposed to be the big battle and the dogs playing keep-away with the yarn was the side skirmish. Now, I realized that the yarn was just an opening volley and the bathroom mess was the side skirmish and her hair was the real battle.

When she was showered, I could see that she'd given herself bangs and on one side, she had a big chunk of hair that was about an inch longer than the bangs. On the other side, it looked more layered, almost feathered. I took a picture of her the next day:

Okay, so I know she has a big rainbow in the middle of her forehead like she's in a Rainbow Brite cult and crazy Cara Delevingne eyebrows, so it's hard to focus on her hair. But, I think you can see the mullet-ness of her hairstyle. It's actually reminiscent of when she was a baby and had what we liked to call "Benjamin Franklin hair." Her hair was pretty thin and baby-like on top, but it was very long in the back. See:

I thought I was the only person who looked at a baby and thought, "you know, she looks like an old politician." But, "great" minds think alike because I just caught this feature in Life & Style Magazine on celebrity kids and their political twins:

I don't want to brag, but I think the Baby looked waaaay more like Benjamin Franklin than Skyler Berman does. And I just can't see the resemblance between Carmen Baldwin and Vladimir Putin. I mean, if she were topless riding a shark, okay. 

If you're the editors of Life & Style are you more concerned about pissing off Alec Baldwin or Putin with this feature?

When the Baby's hair dried and we could get the full effect of her new style, she started looking around for a ribbon to tie around her head (see picture of Mara Wilson above). I suspected that Matilda was the inspiration for the haircut, but the subsequent styling with the headband-ribbon confirmed it. I realize that, for a 6 year-old, she did a pretty good job with the haircut. Even so, I took her to get it cleaned up by Lisa at Ms. Lisa's Cuts for Kids. Lisa did a heroic job, but she cringed at me when she said, "I had to layer it." The Baby's hair now looks roughly like Christina Aguilera's hairstyle when she appeared on Star Search in 1990:

Which is to say, she has a hairstyle, which I generally think is not appropriate or necessary until at least age 11. Once your hair has a style, you have to fuss with it and maintain it and why get started down that path at age 6? Has she learned nothing from the princess beauty parlor game?

At this point, you're probably thinking that the Baby and the Kindle need a break from each other. I tried hiding the Kindle, after I caught her watching it when she was supposed to be sleeping. She insisted that the Kindle stay in her room, even if she wasn't watching it. Since it was late and I didn't want to get her more riled up, I agreed and hid it in her closet. That way, it's close by, so she wins, but she's not watching it, so I win. Riiiiiight. Here's what she did to her closet, trying to find the Kindle:

 She never did find it. That's what you call a hollow victory.

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