Most families have a rascal.
The one who likes to poke the fire, stir the pot, pick the fight…and who gets absolutely giddy when she (or “he”, but ours is a “she”) achieves some disturbance.
When you accuse her of this behavior, she initially drops her jaw wide open, gasps and says “WHAH?” and then bursts into a Cheshire cat grin. Now, I’ve been known to be like this myself – argumentative and stirring things up – but my tendency comes from a desperate need to be right…all the time. It’s a competitiveness. However, in our young one, her impulse to pick and tease are purely for entertainment. Chuckles. In fact, she doesn’t have any need to be right at all. She’ll be the first to say, “Oh, OK, whatever…” and defer to your point of view.
This version of pest comes from her father. He’s the kind of guy – who even at the age of 51 – gets a hoot out of holding his finger right next to the corner of your eye – barely in your peripheral vision – and he snickers when you become annoyed. The more fired up you get, swatting his finger away over and over, the more delighted he becomes. You want to break his arm. He wants to tempt you to do so.
Well there’s a thing called “karma”….
One day when this daughter of ours was about 4, she joined John on his errands. He’d sold a bunch of stuff on eBay, and had a big stack of packages for the Post Office. The line was long and the kid was restless. She would spin around like a ballerina, then try to climb up on a table… She kept begging John for this and that, and suddenly, her desperate tugging at his athletic shorts took them down nearly to his knees.
John, with his arms full of packages, embarrassed and flustered, scolded her mildly and clumsily retrieved his shorts, nearly dropping his stack of packages. The others in line chuckled at his predicament, a desirable reaction our daughter noticed immediately. You can imagine those little wheels in her head spinning as her smirk grew wide….and sure enough, as soon as John had regained his composure, she grabbed his shorts again – with purpose this time – and slammed them all the way to the ground. She let out a squeal, her mouth opened wide with the thrill of it.
There was John, standing in the middle of the long line in his tighty whities, shorts pooling at his ankles, fumbling with his packages, his shorts, and his desire to capture that kid. The other patrons were near tears now, as our little rascal scooted away, giggling wildly to a corner where John couldn’t reach her. The look on her face was pure delight. A moment of absolute comedic triumph.
John managed to adjust his armloads and pin the kid between his hip and the counter until his turn came. Finally, he was able to turn over his packages and seize our daughter, whom he then hauled out of that Post Office like a sack of potatoes. She never stopped giggling except for a few protests at having been pinned against the wall for a few minutes.
When they got outside, John couldn’t scold her. He was laughing, too. He admired her most excellent humor. In fact, he wished he could have pulled something off like that himself. Besides, I think he knew this was a story that would be entered into the family story collection.
And possibly into the story collection of every person in the line that day.