Stop me if you've heard this one before. You strap your child into her high chair, put on her bib and cut up her food. It's something nice, like homemade chili or minestrone with tortilla chips, or shrimp tacos with an avocado spread, or breaded chicken cutlets with sides of garlic-roasted brussels sprouts and pureed cauliflower. Then, like a lowly cook serving her queen, you place her (nonbreakable melamine) plate before her.
She pokes at it first with one, tiny pointer finger and then looks up at you, as if to confirm that it's safe. That it's edible. She even eats a bite of it all on her own, using her pincer grip, bringing the food to her mouth, chewing, smiling, swallowing.
Then she looks at you, her face grave, her eyes boring into your very soul. She picks up a brussels sprout. She picks up a sauteed onion. She picks up a red pepper, cooked soft and slick and oily. She holds it out over the edge of her tray, over the floor. She stares at you.
She lets go.
I can only infer that these actions are deliberate. That she knows she's being naughty. That she has been possessed by some foul demon is trying to get a rise out of me.
And while I have my own tactics for dealing with such incidents (I keep a straight face and withdraw my attention until she is ready to behave again,) I am always privately blown away by how cold and calculated she can be. Seriously. Here are all of the other naughty things she does while staring at me with her crazy eyes:
1. She finishes her sippy cup of perfectly warmed milk, stares into my eyes, burps, and then flings the cup onto the floor.
2. She reaches her hand—in slow motion—into the cat food dish, grabs a fistful of the dry food, stares into my eyes, and then flings it across the kitchen floor.
3. She pulls magazines out of my magazine rack, stares into my eyes, and then begins ripping the pages apart.
4. She crawls under my husband's desk, looks back at him over her shoulder, stares into his eyes, and then yanks out the power cord to his computer monitor.
5. She pulls herself up to standing at the coffee table, manages to reach my piping hot mug of coffee, stares into my eyes (I can only assume, as this occurs during the one moment when I am not looking,) and pulls the mug off the edge of the table. Screams ensue (mine.)
6. She crawls over to my nightstand, unplugs my Kindle, opens it up, stares into my eyes, and manages to purchase a book I did not want.
7. She crawls into her bedroom and, when I walk in after her a few minutes later, I find that she has pulled every single book off of her bookshelf. She stares into my eyes. Her face is solemn. But there is something like glee dancing back there in the whites of her eyes.
8. She flings her toothbrush at my face. While staring into my eyes. I tell myself that she was trying to help me brush my teeth.