That Niggling Question

There comes a time in every mother’s life when she asks herself: “Am I raising a sociopath?”

Oh, you mean you’ve never asked that question? Never? So your kid has never said, with a sweet smile on her face, “That baby is crying!” And she looks, well, happy about it, or proud or something. Like she orchestrated the other child’s tears. And the look of horror on your face.

It wouldn’t bother me if this had happened only once. But any time there is a child crying, or even whining, in the library, at Target, the grocery store, a birthday party, anywhere, she says this. All creepily. She looks a little like Jack Nicholson when she says it (Nicholson in The Shining, Batman, whatever). And I put on my sad face, and say, “Yes, the baby is very sad. Poor baby.”

And Z just stands there, smiling.

So here’s a list of criteria for antisocial personality disorder (also called sociopathy), researched on that paragon of scientific truthfulness, Wikipedia, and how Z fits the mold:

1. Persistent lying or stealing. Do you have to go potty? No. Are you sure? No. Do you have to go? No. SHE GOES. Then there’s: Hey, that’s my DS! Leave it alone! Come back here! SHE RUNS OFF WITH DS.

2. Apparent lack of remorse or empathy for others. See smiling while other children cry, above.

3. Cruelty to animals. All I can say is, Poor Clark. Her tail will never be the same.

4. Poor behavioral controls. We’re talking about a two-year-old, here.

5. A history of childhood conduct disorder. Already in the making.

6. Recurring difficulties with the law. Two words: time out.

7. Tendency to violate the boundaries and rights of others. Um, yup. Not only were my boundaries violated during the sixteen months of breastfeeding, but there’s the constant skirt-tugging. And the hug-attacks on her little friends that often leave them crying.

8. Substance abuse. Her addiction to goldfish crackers counts, I think.

9. Aggressive, often violent behavior. She bit me today. Then she said, “Biting Mommy.”

10. Inability to tolerate boredom. Wow. It’s like the people writing this list actually know my daughter. Were they here yesterday afternoon? [Checking home for hidden cameras right now.]

11. Disregard for safety. She runs everywhere without even looking at the ground. She almost fell into the fish pond at the Butterfly Pavilion in Denver. She ran around with a fork before dinner last night.

Well, there you have it. I am raising a sociopath.

But she’s so freakin’ cute. And she’s my sociopath. And I love her so.

Viva La Clark!

If you haven’t met Clark, you’re missing out. This interview is my attempt to get as much of the full experience of Clark online as possible. She really is a personality and has adjusted well to inserting herself into our daily activities. For example, just the other day-

Clark: Are you ever going to start my interview?

BH: Yes, Clarkinzie. Just a second. As I was saying, just the other day she hopped from chair to chair –

Clark: The only good thing about this interview so far is you’re sitting down in one place and I can sit on you.

BH: Fine. I’ll ask questions. You answer.

Clark: If I feel like it.

BH: Ahem. How did you first join our family?

Clark: Well, really, if you remember accurately, it was more about you people joining my family. But I only invited you because the man you call Husband offered me bits of muffin on the street.

BH: You’re an indoor cat! What were you doing on the street?!

Clark: Don’t interrupt me. But I’ll humor you. At the time, if you recall, I was enjoying the freedom of napping on the sunny pavement whenever the fancy struck. As I was saying so eloquently before, I invited you into my family. There were conditions, if you recall. Would you like me to recount them?

BH: Can I stop you?

Clark: The basic requirement was that you feed me good things. The muffins disappeared, and I will go on a sleep strike if you don’t bring them back. Another requirement was that you allow me to sleep on your heads. There was a  hiccup in your end of the bargain when that ghastly creature [ed. darling Z] was born and my whole world crumbled around me [ed. we all had to make adjustments]. Now, however, I’ve reclaimed my place at your faces, at least when that thing [little Z] isn’t kicking us all out of the Family Bed (Of Pain). There are further requirements, but listing them all would cause the world’s internet system to crash from all the information.

BH: Tell me about your relationship with fruit snack wrappers.

Clark: They crinkle. They roll. They bounce. They skid across the hardwood floor and collect all those dust bunnies you’re too lazy to clean up [ed. that, despite all of your hard work, appear out of nowhere]. What’s not to love?

BH: How do you really feel about your dry cat food?

Clark: If the huge amount left in the bottom of the bowl every day is any indication at all, you wouldn’t need to ask that question. Although it is organic because you’re extremely paranoid after the pet food (and rightly so – we don’t want to take any risks with my health) scare of 2008, it still tastes like _____ [ed. This is a PG-13 rated website].

BH: What’s your favorite part of the day?

Clark: It’s a tie between the canned chicken coming out of the refrigerator, and when that noisy little cat-chaser [ed. spirited munchkin] takes her nap.

BH: What’s your favorite place?

Clark: Since you so cruelly refuse to allow me outdoors and into the street where I may nap [ed. and risk getting run over], [ed. and kill songbirds], I have to satisfy myself with sleeping on any part of your body that is still for at least one minute. If the blanket comes out, I am certain of victory. If you’re sitting at the table eating, or at this infernal computer typing, certain victory again. Barring a spot on an actual slave [ed. human], I will often curl up in the papasan chair or in the south-facing bay window in the bathroom.

BH: Thank you, Clark, for agreeing to this interview. To our studio audience, if you’d like more Clark, you can view a previous post: The Unsung Clarkie Underfoot. Clark, is there anything else you’d like to say?

Clark: It’s time for you to stop typing so you can pet me.

The Unsung Clarkie Underfoot

A Wednesday Momming Around Entry

Clarkie

Don’t sit down. Especially with a blanket and a book or notebook. This cat has Couch Radar and she knows when your lap is easy game. Even the dinner table and the desk are fair hunting grounds for her. Your lap is her prey and she is a skilled huntress.

Clarkie (Clark) is my other baby, and she will never allow herself to be forgotten (you’ll feel the prick of her paw on your face in the morning, or trip over her as you prepare breakfast). Since Z made her screaming way into our lives, though, Clarkie has been shuffled off to the side in a classic case of Forgotten Older Sibling. Has anyone read Socks by Beverly Cleary? Because that’s what I think of sometimes with Clark, and it makes me very sad.

We feel bad for her, especially now that Z is on the move. It used to be that we’d drag a toy mouse on a stick over the bed for her to chase, or toss paper balls around the house. Now Z runs after Clark, an old paper ball held in her sticky, outstretched hand. Screaming. And Clarkie just trots in the other direction. Quickly. I can see a martyred expression on Clark’s face. I think she’s grateful that she is unable to have children, and a little resentful that we did.

Everything Zen in the Tibetan Singing Bowl

Now that Z takes one long nap instead of three excruciatingly short ones, Clark has found my lap again. As I type this she’s tucked into  my sweatshirt, twitching her ear occasionally, but I can tell she’s happy. Ah yes, there’s a purr.

And yeah, she’s obnoxious sometimes. When it was especially difficult to get Z down for her nap for awhile, Clark would wander into Z’s room, meowing loudly. It was like she had Spidey (Kitty) Sense that Z’s eyes were closing, and she just had to foil my hard work. Punishment for spawning. I could read the vengeance in Clarkie’s eyes.

Clarkie is infuriating in some ways, and we have to be, you know, responsible for her, and clean up her poop and make sure she’s fed. But she’s soft, and cute, and so full of love and joy, and she makes us laugh. So really, she isn’t that different from Z.

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Writing update:
No longer rushing to finish revisions. These things take time, and I don’t want to ruin chances with this Dream Agent by sending anything less than my very very best.