As a parent, sometimes it’s hard not to dwell on thoughts of revenge. Not for the sleepless nights or diapers or dry cleaning bills. Those come with the territory. I find myself dwelling on the little things Ian does; the icings on the cake, the cherries on top, the straws that, again and again, threaten to break my camel’s back. These are moments when Ian strays from the workaday transgressions of childhood, and starts pushing buttons.
Eating, for example. He’s never been particularly willing at dinnertime, but there was a stretch of several months when all he would eat were grilled-cheese sandwiches and chicken nuggets. Getting Ian to eat anything else required determination, quick reflexes, and a drop-cloth.
One night, after having asked nicely for him to eat, Ian exhausted all of my tricks. No airplane, no train, no roller-coaster could get through the gates, and no threat of punishment or promise of reward could get one morsel of food past his shaking head and sealed lips. Finally, shoulders slumped and spirit broken, I pleaded, ‘Ian, please. Please, eat your dinner.’ He threw his head back, opened his mouth wide, and took everything we could give him.
Or his current insistence on repeating every question after it’s been answered, several times, and, likewise, making a statement again and again and again and again, until even the cat knows that Ian has seen the moon. Really, I think he’s just biding his time, filling the void, until the next revelation comes along.
Who can forget the two separate occasions, once with Kelly and once with me, when Ian mistook the bathtub for his diaper, giving no warning, and no chance for the parent to exit the tub? Not me. Not me.
Certainly there are some parents reading this who find themselves appalled. Revenge? On your child? Surely not. Before you judge, you need only look as far as your own parents for assurance that such feelings toward my son are perfectly valid. See the smugness on your mother’s face, the gleam in your father’s eye as they return your child after a day with Grandma and Grandpa; or as you struggle to discipline your child, while they sit idly by, holding hands and giving each other surreptitious high-fives when they think you’re not looking.
But parents have cameras, and pictures endure. Ian doesn’t know it, but Kelly and I have had our revenge. The other night, our plans were set in motion, and cannot be stopped.
One day, Ian will meet a girl. She will be lovely, thoughtful, and intelligent. They will fall in love, and they will marry. At the reception, when my son is lost in the eyes of his bride, and as I stand to bless their marriage, I will ask for the lights to be dimmed. And We. Will. Have. Our. Revenge.