This week has been nightmarish. Six months before the big two-oh, my daughter has decided act like a two-year old. Being 18 months is too mainstream. Besides, Adoti is always more comfortable being ahead of the curve. Usually I’m happy to chase after her with pom poms, clapping madly and bursting with pride and admiration. This time though, Mama’s too exhausted to get her cheering groove on.
Some folks want to live the dream. Me? I just want sweet dreams. I use the word ‘nightmarish’ with intent, even though technically, I would have to be asleep to have nightmares. But being in a forced state of wakefulness, with a toddler’s persistent crying as a soundtrack, qualifies as a nightmare. Only difference bring you’re afraid of yourself – that you might leave the child in her cot and go on a road trip to Busia. Maybe even cross the border.
Why? Because she is in some kind of developmental phase that does not require rest and recuperation. If her waking hours – basically all her hours – were peaceful, I wouldn’t have a problem with it. But because we’ve decided to act like we’re two and think like we’re two, being awake at 1.17 in the morning is not enough – we must also throw a tantrum (a series of tantrums if I’m honest) and demand for the world to be delivered to us on a platter, because hey, we can.
So I’m scrambling to give the child everything she wants because I’m under the impression that she actually wants it. But she doesn’t. She doesn’t want water. She doesn’t want crisps. She doesn’t want to watch Dora the Explorer, or her purple friend Barney. She doesn’t want to go outside. To stand up or to sit down. She doesn’t want a kiss or a cuddle. A kind word or a harsh one.
Most importantly, she doesn’t want to sleep. She just wants to make demands, because the more errands she sends Mama on, the longer she gets to stay awake. When she runs out of ruses, she cries. Long, hard and loud.
There is a certain tone to her crying that would drive even Buddha bonkers. You feel like someone has taken your head in both hands and is shaking your brain around in your skull. Like you’re standing under a tree in a thunder storm being struck by lightning over and over and over again. Like you’ve touched a live wire and can’t let go. Like Cupid’s evil twin shot you with a poisoned arrow and it lodged right between your eyes. Like your hand is being held over a flame.
Most of all you feel like crying. But that would make you no better than a wannabe 2-year-old, which would do. Wouldn’t do at all. But you do it anyway, turning your head away shamefaced, mortified that such a tiny human could bring you to the precipice.
This child has me by the you-know-whats, you think to yourself. She is the boss of me. Because I live, she can cry tomorrow. What will happen when she actually turns two? Maybe she’ll hire a Chinese hit man. Do away with Mama altogether. Mama’s unstable, she’ll say to him. What kind of woman can’t control her 18-month-old child? Make it quick, she’ll say. I don’t want her to suffer.
Well, she may as well find an assassin because suffering has been my portion for a week now. As soon as the clock strikes 9pm, she lines up the weapons in her arsenal and prepares to fight against the forces that would see her close her eyes and cede her stake in the land of wakefulness.
So far I’ve been no match for Adoti’s manoeuvres. She has won every battle, making a complete mockery of her mother. I have 30-odd years on the girl, but she has shown me up at every turn. But I am determined to win the war. While I have been forced to retreat to regroup and re-strategize, I have not surrendered. I’m gearing up for the mother of all comebacks. She better watch out because Mama means business.
I’ll get her to sleep at bedtime even if it kills me. At least that way, she won’t have to find someone to put me out of my misery. There’s always a silver lining folks. Always a silver lining.