I don't want to say my son Jude is a sadist, but he sure derives a lot of joy from destroying my life one micro-aggression at a time. If I'm being honest, this all started when he was born. As a newborn, he would sleep until the second my head hit the pillow for the night; he would then scream every hour on the hour until the morning. I would beg him to stop, fully aware that my plump newborn really couldn't be all that hungry after his feast from the hour before. He never listened to me and continued his war on my insanity through exhaustion.
Jude's tactics have grown more sophisticated as he's aged. As soon as he was able to eat solids, he would deliberately throw them on the floor. The more messy and destructive the better. He loved to throw Cheerios on the ground, which would inevitably get crushed underfoot; crushed cheerios are impossible to pick up without a broom. As a toddler, Jude even learned how to shriek at such a decibel that he took me to the very edge of insanity. He liked to bring out this trick whenever I was just about to relax for the first time in 95 hours.
As a five-year-old, Jude's (almost) sadist tendencies have become even nuanced and calculated. He'll climb into the car slower than I've ever seen him do precisely because I'm standing in the rain without an umbrella. Or, he'll rub his peanut butter-covered face on a shirt that Greg just got back from the dry cleaners, only because he knows it will set his dad off. Or, when we're running late, Jude will dig his heels in and say "I don't want to go anymore" as he throws himself onto the floor. I beg, on the verge of tears, as he scrunches up his little face and crosses his puny arms across his chest. It's almost as if he's holding this family hostage at times. He'll spit his toothpaste on the shiny faucet minutes after I clean it.
During the rain-soaked, LAUSD strike, without school or sunshine to distract him, his destructive tendencies have been turned up to eleven. After a day of intermittent sibling fights and whining, I decided to bring the kids to my local gym that has a daycare so that I could think for a minute. They dragged their feet leaving the house and fought in the backseat on the way over. When we arrived, we found out that no one had shown up to open the daycare. I looked at Darla and Jude, two kids with cabin fever, and sighed a deep, defeated sigh. I grabbed their hands and marched them back out into the rain.
"Nooo," Jude started screaming inching ever closer to the mania-inducing decibel. "I want to go to the gym."
"Believe me," I said. "You couldn't want to be in that daycare more than I want you to be in there. Don't make this worse."
And that's when he dug in his heels and took great pains to walk as slowly as he could while I, wholly exposed to the elements without an umbrella, watched helplessly. When we got in the car, he refused to put on his seatbelt and yelled. I turned around and stared at the rain on the windshield. I was a broken woman.
Eventually, he put his seatbelt on and stopped complaining about the gym. The night carried on with relative ease once he was able to get his (almost) sadistic desires out. But that doesn't mean I relax. I continue to live in constant fear of Jude. What will do next? Intentionally pee in my shoes? Pour my foundation on the carpet? Only time will tell.