Last night I’m rocking with my daughter Nyxie, and she’s being particularly jerkish about going to sleep tonight. She’s been fussing and carrying on for two hours and my patience is starting to run thin. I know there will still be nights like this, that just because she’s graduated from cute meat sack to tiny human being doesn’t mean she’s going to be perfect. I know this, but it’s Wednesday night, the middle of the work week. I just want to chill, liveblog some Survivor and hang out with my lovely wife.
The frustration builds as she squirms and cries in my arms when suddenly she stops and arches her back. Her hand reaches behind her and starts pulling out her diaper.
“Butt hurts,” she says in her small purposely pitiful voice. “Scratch.”
This is a regular routine with her. Not scratching her butt, that was new, but scratching something. Her back or her shoulder or, most commonly – and strangely – her toe.
Scratching her butt was new, and my Nyxie, poor thing, has almost no butt. Just two flat puckered cheeks that look only barely escape looking like more thigh. There’s really not a lot of room to scratch and I had just changed a diaper containing an atomic turd less than half an hour ago, so I wasn’t about to go digging too deep. But I oblige and start scratching her lower back. That’s not good enough.
“Eh, eh, eh” she whines, lifting up her diaper again. I scratch down a bit, above and to the left of her butt crack.
“G’in,” she says again in her weak, pitiful baby voice. Not quite two and a half yet and she has fake pouting down to a science. “G’in!”
“Get in,” she says to me, enunciating her words again. “Get in there.”
My wife, who is sitting on the couch, starts cracking up.
“Did she just say ‘get in there’?”
I nod, trying to contain my laughter as she now tries to guide my hand into the depths of her diaper to scratch what I consider to be an area far too close to her little rectum.
“Not going to happen,” I tell her and pull my hand to her lower back.
“Eh, eh, eh!” she repeats, trying to grab my hand again, but I give her the one thing I know will get her to stop.
“No,” I say in my low, forceful Daddy voice.
Her eyes water, then clench closed as she takes a deep breath to start hollering to announce her next bout of overtired theatrics. She will go to sleep tonight, and her refusal to give in to the sandman will cause some more annoyance before the end.
But sometimes the annoyance is worth it for one of those classic and unique experiences you get with the crazy little things that are children. When you have kids you quickly learn that it’s not all fun. It’s hard, often exhausting work that will stretch you to your limits. And cliche as it is to say, the little moments – the smile, the bit of developing personality shining through, the hugs and “I love you”s – make all the hours of wanting to pull your hair out worth it.