Thursday, August 14, 2008

Introducing: The Barbarienne

The Flower and The Boy have a younger sister. Sample quote:
You're not my friend, Daddy, and I break your heart and eat it.

[this is accompanied by the motions of tearing something up and eating it]

My children do say odd things sometimes. When The Flower was two, she once plopped down in an executive chair, spun around in it and said,

I have nothing to do today but smoke and boss people around.

[this accompanied by uncannily good smoking mimicry, not the usual fakey thing kids do]

Anyhoo, while The Flower is bossy, The Barbarienne is imperious. She's pretty sure she's in charge, and takes great affront at challenges to her sovereignty. Well, she's two, right? Terrible 2s and all that?

Except that she's been this way since six months, complete with verbal commandy-ness at 11 months. A year-and-a-half ago I was sure she was going through the terrible 2s a year early, and wouldn't that be great to get that out of the way.

The thing I ignored is that none of my other kids went through the "terrible 2s". Hmm. And it's not going away even as she approaches three.


All kids are different, of course. And you can tell a lot about them from the moment they're born and well before they can articulate their thoughts and feelings. Even as you help them move past their limitations, you can see--and had better respect--the core personality.

The Barbarienne is fearless, but she wants nothing to do with anything horror. (The Boy, of course, loved horror early on, while The Flower puts her own "hearts and flowers" type spin on anything dark.) She emulates her older sister on stage, but has none of the stage timidness--and a rather fascinatingly strong musical sense. She's pretty sure she can solve most problems by being louder and pushier than the other people involved. (Oh, lord, we've given birth to a New Yorker!)

All of the kids try the tantrum, of course, but since our reaction is generally very "meta"--that is, we don't react to the tantrum as if it were genuine, but rather as though it's a show that the child is putting on (which it is)--a second tantrum is very rare.

This is a fun fact about kids: They do things deliberately, like tantrums, that then get out of control. They're not exactly faking. It's more like an Incredible Hulk thing: they get angry and then can't stop getting angry. So if you demonstrate that a certain behavior isn't going to get results and that they can control it, you don't get compulsive behavior like breath holding or whatever.

Having said that, and being confident that it's true, it remains that The Barbarienne wants her way, and volume is no obstacle. She doesn't have tantrums, really, but she believes--without any evidence to support the idea--that if she asserts herself strongly enough, she will get her way. Hands on hips, foot stamp, leaning forward into your face sort of assertion.

Unlike her various siblings, she's not really interested in negotiating. Although this is difficult to manage, it's not necessarily a bad thing, presuming it gets focused in positive ways. Worst case, I suppose, is that she ends up on a Sunday morning talking heads show.

With the added bonus that she might just rip out her adversary's heart and eat it.


  1. You are in for a lot of fun. The only thing that could possibly be worse is when she develops into a beautiful woman and you are the father of Adrienne Barbarienne.

    Something to look forward to.

  2. Yeah, she's actually shaped different from the other girls, who are more willowy and delicate (looking, they're still tough and wiry).

    Oh, well. The Boy's started collecting knives, guns and other weapons, so you know, if someone comes to the door, whoever answers it is likely to be brandishing something lethal.


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