I’m fixing the crib when Kavya comes stomping up the stairs, determined to “help” me assemble it. She goes through my toolbox, picks up a wrench and insists on using it to tighten the screws, none of which are wrenchable. Even with her active imagination, she realizes the futility of the endeavor and gives up on the wrench, goes downstairs to lug back her step stool. She wants to get in on the star-shaped phillips screwdriver action, but after a minute or so, her interest in it dwindles. Mine had dwindled as soon as I began standing over the crib and tightening the screws like some factory working muppet.
She moves on and picks up a wire cutter from my toolbox.
“What does it do?” she asks.
“It cuts wires,” I say, immediately regretting my inadvertent honesty.
“How does it work?” She’s walking around the crib with the wire cutter assessing the situation.
“Just find the wires on the crib,” I tell her.
Kavya doesn’t budge because at 3 years old, she knows everything there is to know about detecting sarcasm. She hasn’t quite mastered being sarcastic though.
I continue tightening bolts for the crib and go find that L shaped thingy (it’s the technical term expert baby furniture putter-togethers use). I notice the power cord to my hard drive is neatly cut in two.
“Did you cut this?” I ask. Kavya blankly looks at me. Her eyes widen as she processes the weight of the split second decision she’s being asked to make. She shakes her head. I ask her again. She shakes her head once more and turns towards the window. Or rather, she turns to face the wall just below the window, although if she had a periscope, she would be able to see the amazing view from the window: tops of storefronts, the top of a red brick apartment building obscured by tree branches.
“It’s okay if you cut it,” I lie. “Did you use this wire cutter?” I hold up the wire cutter. Most of my parenting techniques come from police dramas. Entrapment is a skill I hope to master by the time she’s 6.
“These are excellent cuts,” I say, examining the dismembered power cord. “Can you show me how you did it?” She slowly turns to face the chest of drawers next to the crib we’re assembling, still not looking at me.
Kavya’s pet peeve are people not doing things properly, so I fumble about with the wire cutter and she snaps out of this staring at wall thing she’s doing by leaping the two steps towards me. Instead of grieving over the destroyed power cord, we cut that power cord good, like a pair of really bad ninja assasins, with a lot of time on our hands.
Later on, in the middle of her putting me in an arm lock and me tapping out on the bed, I ask her why she didn’t tell me she’d cut it up. She suddenly becomes quiet.
“Because I thought you’d be angry,” she finally says.
“Well, you can’t go around the house cutting up wires willy nilly,” I say. She suppresses a laugh at my use of the unsubstituble willy nilly.
My interpretation of her, “Okay, Papa,” is that we have come to an understanding, but this may have been reading a little too much into it, as the next moment she leaps ontop of me in order to eat my face. I’m pretty sure this is not the way any of the parenting books suggest to handle the situation. Although, the parenting books probably wouldn’t advise letting a 3 year-old pick up a wire cutter either. So, there’s that.
What have your little humans destroyed on your watch?