The Alligator Slayer: A Tale of the Terrible TwosSerge Bielanko
He is at that age now where nothing he does makes any sense except when he smiles and makes all the sense in the damn world.
The rest of the time, Henry, closing in on two, is hell on wheels.
I guess he deserves this period of wanton Goldfish flinging and sister-biting. He has been a good boy up until now and both his mom and I would tell you (if you were over here visiting or something) that his sweet heart and his earth-shattering grin have been amongst our main salvations over the past year, a tricky one in its own ways.
Now though, the boy is growing and sowing a few wild oats, as they say.
Oh, who am I kidding?
He has become a gargoyle at nap time and a mourning mother when you refuse him a cookie.
The past three days, my wife Monica has been away in New York for some business. It’s her fourth trip this year, so it wasn’t anything new for me at all to have both Henry and his 3-year-old sister alone for a while. However, it was the first time she has been gone for a spell since Hank entered his “Blue Period” aka, the Terrible Twos.
I suppose I wasn’t expecting much in the way of trouble.
The poor kid hurls himself headlong at the linoleum when I even mention the possibility of getting a bath. When I mention something about brushing his teeth, his eyes immediately leak lakes and, in his mind I believe, he actually feels the razor-sharp snaggle-teeth of a big old country alligator locking jaws on his tiny Play-Doh ass. There’s just no other explanation for the wailing but pure physical pain.
I bring up brushing, he gets bit by a reptile.
Then, funny enough, I ultimately get him to do it and when it’s time to pry the toothbrush away and shut off the water and ask him to stop eating the toothpaste directly from the tube for the 47th time this week, he erupts in a panic so severe and loud and freakish that it simply HAS to indicate that, somehow/somewhere, the kid is being half-eaten by a Florida golf course dinosaur.
And don’t even mention the car to me anymore. I can barely take it.
We approach the Honda and he starts slinging his limbs around like a caffeinated Kung-Fu guy. He slams his little work boots into my crotch and pops his skull back hard and fast against my teeth, and it hurts him and it decimates me, and soon I have him in his car seat, but he’s not going down willingly. He flops and quivers and screams and, this is his best highly-patented, original Crazy Move, he slaps his tiny hand into his own mouth and bites down really hard and shakes with steam-engine angst.
Smoke freakin’ rises from his scalp.
But I click him in. Through it all, I click him in and we take off down the road toward the Y or the supermarket or the duck park or wherever we’ve got to get to.
I look at him in the rear-view then. I watch him for a minute or so.
He winds down.
The Christmas carols play on the satellite radio. He gulps big sad gulps of car air. His fat tears plop down onto the cliffs of his winter jacket. His blues, just minutes old, quickly turns into this sort of hiccupy thing, sort of a post-sob/downturned smile/wee gasping thing. It’s pretty precious, really.
Oh, son. My son. My boy. My little buddy. He looks out the window, out at the mountains and the forests and the barns rotting out there in the mist, listening to the songs, tear stain vapor trails crossing the skies of his chipmunk cheeks, pointing at the Amish donkeys who are out there pointing at him as he swishes by them at 58.6 mph.
Henry Benry: spotting my eyeballs eyeballing him in the rear-view, throwing up his hand up to wave, “Hello!”
Henry Benry: breaking out that smile that kills gators deader than hell, fifty or sixty times a day.
You can also find Serge on his personal blog, Thunder Pie.
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