My Daughter, The Con Artist

conartistWe had trouble putting Emily to bed last night. She got her usual pre-bedtime bath. Bottle. Burp. But at the end of this routine, her eyelids didn’t go droopy. Her arms didn’t go limp. Instead, she just fussed and fussed and fussed.

Eventually, I took her upstairs anyway, at which point I fully expected her to start screaming as soon as I placed her down in the crib. Instead, she got that flirtatious look on her face, the same one she uses whenever I’m paying attention to anything but her and she wants to dial up the charm.

I swear, she literally places her finger in the corner of her mouth while smiling coyly, then runs it down her chest while giggling. Or gurgling. Shameless. I wish I had video proof of this so you could see what I’m up against, but it looks something like this.

So anyway, she started smiling and laughing at me, grabbing my finger and making the most adorable cooing sounds ever in the world. And obviously, I am powerless against this. So I spent the next 15 minutes holding her hand and staring at her adoringly and smiling back at her, which is exactly what she wanted.

Eventually, I thought her good mood might allow me to make my escape, and that perhaps she’d coo herself all the way to sleep.

Oh how naive I can be. As soon as I walked away, her gurgles and coos became the most heartbreaking of wails.

Still, I forced myself to wait five minutes before returning to her side. When she didn’t stop screaming, I made my way back to her room. Of course, as soon as I reentered her line of sight, her mood switched immediately back to delight.

My mother has pointed out that Emily knows exactly how to manipulate me. “I never see actual tears when she’s ‘crying,'” she says. “That girl is such a con artist.”

And it’s true. Emily knows exactly what she’s doing. And she does it all the time.

Aside from bedtime — and any time I’m trying to get any sort of work done — Em especially likes to keep me on my toes when I’m trying to make dinner. I set her up in her Rock n’ Play right next to the kitchen table so she can watch what I’m doing, and thus begins a cycle during which I start chopping vegetables, hear Em begin to cry, do something ridiculous to make Em laugh, confirm that she is now in good spirits, turn back to my dinner prep, hear Em begin to cry, do something ridiculous, and on and on and on.

The time estimates in cookbooks are now a terrible lie.

Following is a list of the things I do in order to postpone a mid-cooking meltdown:

  • engage Em in conversation, so she knows I’m listening
  • do jazz hands
  • sing “All About That Bass” to Em, as if I am singing a tender love song that has been written just for her
  • poke her belly while making squishy sound effects
  • poke both of her cheeks while making squishy sound effects
  • wave her hands around so it looks like she’s dancing
  • wave her feet around (at which point her eyes go wide because OH MY GOD SHE HAS FEET)
  • point out to her that she also has knees (another interesting development)
  • blow raspberries at her while she attempts to do the same right back at me
  • dance dance dance my heart out

I swear, if anyone ever peeked in my window, this is what they would see:

Except there would be more flailing and spinning and raising of the roof, and I would be doing all of it by my lonesome. Never before has there been a more perfect personification of “dance as if no one is watching.”

Emily likes to laugh at me as I do this because she is obviously the Simon Cowell of the dance world.

Sometimes, I wonder if I will ever be able to discipline Emily. If I will ever have any semblance of control. I wonder if she will always be able to charm me into her good graces with a bat of her eyelashes and a coy smile.

Then I decide it’s too soon to start worrying about such things. For now, Emily’s wish is my command.


P.S. I found the onesie pictured above on Zazzle, and I would buy it but it’s obvious she’s a con artist without any additional help from her wardrobe.

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