“Arlo! Gimme back my glasses! I said ‘No touch!'”
“Yes, they are my new glasses, gentle please- give them back to me please.”
“Neeeuw ghasses Papa!”
“Yes buddy, new glasses- they are Papa’s- No! No! Don’t bend them like that please! Those are my new glasses!”
This is not the first time this scenario has played out in a week. You’d think I’d catch on, but this kid is sneaky. We might be playing with trains on the floor or reading a book and he’ll nonchalantly nudge closer to me, acting all affectionate-like, and then boom! He lunges at my glasses and grabs them off my face like one of those 25 cent sticky hands snapping a sheet of paper.
This time we weren’t doing either of those things- this time we were playing karate man. Karate man is a game consisting of me saying “Heeeee-yaaa!” and either lightly hitting or kicking him as if we were in a very important karate match. I just realized how bad that sounds when I write it out. It’s actually very disciplined, and honestly, I’m barely touching him- but at lightening speed.
Trust me, it’s not a one way match mind you- he retaliates. He comes at me with kicks announced with “Hheeee-hha!” Sure, his kicks are slow and drunk, and most don’t land- but he’s learning the sport. And he practices a lot, mostly on our new refrigerator- he walks right up to it and points at it, “Nuuee fwidge,” then karate mans it with his chunky foot, “He-haaa!”
“Okay buddy, can I have my glasses back now please? Please?”
He holds them up proudly in his fat greasy fingers like a new shiny trophy, “Neuww ghassis!”
“Aw please buddy, just give them back- I need them to see.”
He points to my eyes, “Iiiiyeeeeeees! Tuuuuuee iiyeees!”
“Yeah buddy, two eyes. How about those glasses, huh?”
“Bubo. Yes. Two eyes. Can I have my glasses back? Please.”
He ignores my plea. “Alright Bubs, I’m gonna count to three, and then you NEED give them back, okay- I’m counting to three. ”
“Tue iyeeeeeeeeees,” he points.
I honestly began this without thinking about how it might end. But how can it end really? I’ll tell you how- it ends with me with my glasses on my face- that’s the only way this ends- I mean, I started counting- I’m a goddamn disciplinarian now.
Upon hearing “one” he furiously hits his belly button with my glasses, “Whaaann beeeboe!”
I hold back a proud smile and feign furrowed eyebrows.
“Whan nosssseeee,” he points to his nose.
“Twooooooooo,” I draw out.
But really, I only have one more digit to count and then he finds me out- I should have counted to five- he’ll comply though, right? I mean, I‘M COUNTING- that’s real. Kids know that’s real. But what do I do if he doesn’t let them go? I can’t grab them out of his hand- he’s holding on too tight- He knows! He knows I got nothing!
“Tuueee feeeet! Whaan, tuuuee… tuuee feet!”
All those books I’ve read over the last couple years on child rearing and disciplining- none of them prepared me for this moment- sure, follow though on your directives they said- set boundaries- let your child use his whole brain or some shit like that- what they don’t tell you is how to take your glasses out of your toddler’s hands when he’s holding them hostage! This kid is not showing any signs of budging- in fact- he’s just smiling at me like he knows something I don’t- like he’s got me right where he wants me.
So this is how you’re gonna play it, huh Arlo…
We size each other up with our eyes and I give him a moment to decide our fates.
“Heeeeeeeeee-Yaaaaaaaaa!” I resort to my secret karate man move left only for rare situations like these. Palms up, both my hands sink into either side of his neck. It’s his most ticklish spot- he has no defense for this move- in fact, he loses all motor skills and his chin rolls clamp down on my hands and he throws my glasses. He has no choice but to giggle uncontrollably until I relent, which I do after a few moments of listening to his contagious toddler laughter.
He recovers. I pick up my glasses and look at them. Other than looking like they’ve just been slimed, they survive another attack.
“Good god kid, we’ve gotta wash your hands!”
He pops up and scampers down the hallway to grab his hand washing chair.
I clean my glasses on my shirt and listen to our dining room chair being dragged across the kitchen to the sink, while he sings out the new family motto, “Wash haaands! Wash haands!”