This stick-wielding lad has found his voice. Alas, it is not his "inside voice," or his "writing voice," or even his singing voice.
No. He has tapped into his outside voice, otherwise known as his Barbaric Yawp, or his assertive voice, or, perhaps most aptly, his "I'm Angry as Hell and I'M NOT GOING TO TAKE IT ANYMORE!" voice.
I noticed it the first time on Thursday. We were waiting in the preschool lobby, and, as usual, I had nothing for him to play with. He had already made quick work of the Book of Saints, and was moving on to the various potted plants, when he saw my diaper bag. With a knowing lunge, he grabbed my keys and happily began chomping away.
I usually have no problem with key-chewing. Yes, keys are a bit germy, but I'm willing to build immunity if it means the baby is contained. Recently, I've been forced to change this view.
Last week, he chewed with so much vigor that he managed to mess up the battery in the "clicker." Consequently, the Subaru went into full-fledged panic mode--flashing lights, honking horn, the full Monty. This happened at two in the morning. Then two thirty. Then three. Then five. As our neighbors cleaned their guns and set up their alibis, we finally figured out that we needed to remove the battery in order to get through the night without any more "panic attacks." Because we're really smart like that.
After that ordeal, we were down to one functioning clicker. A clicker that presently was in Joel's gaping maw. So, I made a snap decision and took away the keys.
And Joel, my thirteen-month-old Dylan Thomas, decided to Rage, RAGE against the taking of the keys. He flung himself towards the ground, and howled, a dark, piercing succubus of Hell noise. This noise wasn't human. It wasn't even baby. It was something very dark, very piercing, and very, very pissed off.
I considered inching away, pretending that he was somebody else's baby. It totally would have worked if all of the other occupants hadn't witnessed the whole key-snatching episode start to finish. I smiled awkwardly and said, "He really likes those keys."
The other mothers smiled, thinking to themselves, "Pick the baby up, asshole." Of course, they thought this in the nicest possible way. I eventually picked Joel up, who immediately arched his back in resistance. "Hell no, I won't go!" he chanted in his mind as he attempted to break free of my tyrannical restraints.
I wasn't terribly rattled, because one-years are easily distracted, and indeed, a trip to the bathroom mirror was enough to remove Joel from his angry world, and back to his happy place. He smiled at the mirror, and waved to that blond, bespectacled baby waving back at him. He was with his peeps, and the keys were forgotten.
Although I handled this episode, I knew, as you only know having done it once before, that Joel was only going to become more, not less unreasonable. I predict many disappointments will reduce my little boy to a flailing mess of emotion. This will happen often. It will be MORE FUN every single time.
I can't say I'm looking forward to it. I don't relish a future of dodge, duck, dip, dive, and dodge. Yet, I am grateful to see that Joel, like his brother, his parents, his grandparents, his aunts, and his uncles---is feisty.
The world needs scrappers---and I've got one. Game on.