Here are things I would rather endure than having to listen to Luca’s fake cry:
Needles in my eyes
Reggae, the listening to of
Any sort of exercise class with the words “combat” or “pump” in it
Having to eat bananas or poop, which is basically the same thing
Being forced on a submarine (this needs its own post, I think)
Watching Fox news or Nancy Grace (who’s a freaking nut job, by the way)
Wearing bad fashion, including oversized t-shirts and high-waist jeans
Reading Nora Roberts or Barbara Delinsky, exclusively
Watching any television show with the words “Jersey,” “desperate,” “pimp,” or “-zilla” in the title
Spending a week in Chicago O’Hare airport, with no cell phone, computer, or iPod
Because it’s awful. It isn’t just awful, it’s persistent, grating, ongoing, and so clearly fake. It’s so fake that I actually find myself rolling my eyes, at my three year old. If he decides to fake cry, we are talking about up to an hour of the fake cry. An hour, people! That is a long freaking time! He stays in character like it’s a drug that he is addicted to. And so far, it makes the top of the list of the things that the children do that no human should do. Ever. It’s even above eating pencils, which Luca thought would be a great idea to do the other day. Now that was the ultimate head scratcher, since, well, getting our kids to try new foods can be a freaking nightmare, yet one look at that pencil and my child takes a bite.
John and I have always been grateful for Luca. Not simply because he is alive and he is our son, but because he is the yin to Rowan’s yang. He’s our comic relief. He motivates Rowan to take risks, while Rowan cautions him. Luca is the first to, um, try new foods (and pencils) and he literally smack-talks Rowan into trying them too. He is almost 100 percent in the moment, and spends little if any of his time reflecting, regretting, or being upset about missed opportunity or negative situations. I envy him, actually. He is so self possessed! And he could care less what you think of him. He’s the kid that asks if he can have a dress to go with his fairy wand, and loves to carry around his Fancy Nancy books, or his new hideous and demeaning Barbie book. (Seriously, it’s bad, that Barbie book.)
What Luca brings to the family is such a gift. And the child is cute. SIPNEL! He is a-freaking-dorable! So cute that although he picks his nose and eats it in front of his entire karate class, all the moms giggle and exclaim about how cute he is (well, I’m sure they cringe, or as one dear friend said recently, “I just have to look away when he does that.”). He gets away with so much, simply due to the cute. But when he busts out with the fake cry? He ceases to be cute.
Now, the fake cry at our house is usually the result of a few different things: either he “hurts” himself in the most ridiculous way (for example, the time he hurt his shirt, or the other time, when he hurt his hair), he does something wrong and gets punished for it, or he doesn’t get his way. Your basic stuff. Here is a perfect example for you: I got on the phone with my sister, and seconds later, Luca came and asked me to play the “relaxing game” with him. I said no, but that I would when I was off the phone. Cue the fake cry. I spoke to my sister for 47 minutes that day, and the entire time Luca did the fake cry. The entire time. My sister will vouch for me. When I got off the phone and asked him what game it was that he wanted to play, and he told me again, the “relaxing game.” I asked him, “what do you do in the relaxing game?” and he replied “lay down right here with me and relax!” So, for 47 minutes my child fake cried because I wouldn’t lay down.
Oh, the irony.
About a year ago, just when I thought I had dodged the terrible-twos bullet, some extremely evil soul informed me that the three’s were worse. Way worse. They didn’t qualify it other than to call it the “traumatizing threes,” which, as you can imagine, made my blood run cold. We actually had fared pretty well with both boys, behavior-wise, and I just assumed we would have smooth sailing until hormones hit. But, alas, it was not to be.
Because then came the fake cry. It is extremely identifiable. Luca could be 1,000 yards away from me and I could tell you whether or not his cry is real or fake. Mothers, upon becoming pregnant, are fitted with an electronic bullshit sensor. Either that or the sound of a fake cry is so distinctive that it is impossible to mistake for a real cry. I think the sensor is more likely. At least it would be way cooler. Either way, I’ve got his number. But, see, the thing is? It doesn’t matter. I may have his number, but I still have to listen to the fake cry. (The double whammy is when he both fake cries and picks his nose and eats it. That one kills me.) But now, when he begins the fake cry, I just cut right to the chase and pick him up, walk him to my room, put him on the bed, walk out and shut the door behind me. It’s what any rational human would do.
The thing is, it changes nothing. No amount of punishment makes it stop! In fact, I think he likes it! He knows it has power, simply because we react. Honestly, it’s like he gets in the fake-cry zone and simply cannot get out of the zone. There isn’t anything that has been effective so far, and now we all sort of walk on eggshells around him, so as to avoid the fake cry. Today, I heard the boys playing in the other room, and Luca started to fake cry. Rowan very hurriedly said “Oh! Sorry Luca, it was an accident!” and Luca stopped fake crying. It was both a relief and a bit disturbing, because Rowan did crisis aversion! I’m pretty sure we are all just biding our time and thinking, “please make it stop . . . please make it stop . . . please make it stop” and in the meantime, we do whatever it takes to make it not happen. I’ve stooped as low as offering him money to stop fake crying. I’m going to guess that this is in every single parenting book under “What Not To Do.” But, clearly, they haven’t heard Luca’s fake cry.
Now it’s your turn to share your stories with me! Audience participation! What is your child’s most annoying and hard-to-parent habit? What has worked for you? Booze? Corporal punishment? Bribes? Do tell.