The Little Dictator
Usually it is the 80s.
So you see otherwise normal, nice people walk around in stonewashed jeans and T-shirts with double entendres written in hot pink: "Fuzzy's Fried Chicken. Home of the Biggest Breasts in Texas." That kind of thing.
Well, I think that dictators do the same thing. Only with them, it's not clothing, it's childhood. They go through the typical stages of crawling and walking and picking up a cheerio with their thumb and pointer finger. Then they turn two. And they just stick with that mindset for the rest of their lives.
I know this because J.J. reminds me so much of Napoleon (only taller), it's not even funny. Not that I knew the French conqueror personally. But I did see Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure. So I know what I'm talking about.
Here's one comparison. Whenever Napoleon invaded a country, it had to be his idea, you know.
His wife Josephine would say, "Honey, wouldn't it be fun to take over Egypt tonight? You know how I love the pyramids."
"Mais, Non!" he would say. "This idea est tres, tres stupide!"
"Well, who do you want to invade?" she'd ask, rolling her eyes at the mirror as she put on lipstick.
And he'd hem and haw and the very next day, he'd say he had a great idea: invading Egypt.
This is why they got divorced, contrary to what historians say.
Which is that while the emporor and empress were still married, Napoleon made a list of younger women that he wanted to marry. It was called "Princesses I Want to French Kiss After Divorcing Josephine."
I mean, who does that?
But back to the "his idea" point.
Likewise, when I dress J.J. in the morning, the shirt has to be his idea. I'll show him his favorite Batman shirt--the yellow and blue one--and he'll say, "No."
Then he'll march into his room and choose the white and blue Batman shirt.
And while world domination isn't on J.J.'s agenda (seeing's how he thinks the world is a blue bouncy ball,) he does claim ownership over everything he sees.
If you eat with J.J., for instance, you need your game face on. Johnny, who has a constant Pokemon battle going on in his head, daydreams during dinner. And let me tell you, J.J. bleeds him dry meal after meal. A French fry here, a piece of chicken there, a gulp of milk here. Johnny has no trouble cleaning his plate these days.
We went to a Greek festival recently and it was like Genghis Kahn had joined us for dinner. He was grabbing lamb off our plates like we didn't feed him at home. People were staring at us.
"It's a good thing he wasn't born into royalty," Justin said. "He would have been a barbaric dictator."
He's not a bad kid. It's the age. And the type-A personality. Coupled with his large stature. And two big brothers, who think his Kubilai Kahn antics are hilarious.
We put him in time out and everything, but, well, so did little Kubilai's parents.
In our family--and maybe your's, too, the toddler years are tough, to say the least. We just cross our fingers and hope they grow out of it.
Recently I've been heartened by J.J.'s move away from total dictatorship. He's more like a corrupt Senator at this point. You know, he cares about getting caught. Which is nice. It's a good starting point.
We have this chocolate spread that we put on toast, and today, Johnny yelled to me, "Mooooom, J.J.'s into the chocolate agaaaiiin."
I ran into the kitchen to see J.J. also running into the kitchen, carrying the jar, which he put back on the counter, and a dirty spoon, which he threw back in the drawer.
Then he smiled at me innocently, as if to say, "I'm just putting away the chocolate. Somebody was eating it straight out of the jar. Can you believe that? Then they smeared it all over my face and shirt. And my hand."
And he wants to be good. It's just that, for him, the means always justify the end.
A few days ago, for instance, he dumped an entire container of guppy food into the aquarium. Then, I guess because he couldn't reach Fish Face's bowl, he emptied the Beta food into every drawer in the room. I mean, did he think there were animals there, or what?
Anyway, I got in there, and I said, "Oh, no. No. Noooooo. This is bad. Bad. Baaaad."
And he looked around him, like, "Man, somebody is in biiiiig trouble. I'm just glad it's not me."
Then he smiled at me with total empathy. Like he and I were the only mature adults in the house.
He was like, "Hey, mom, whatever problem you're dealing right now--like the aquarium reeks or whatever you're freaking out about--I just want you to know that I fed the fish. Don't even worry about that. I also fed the pet shorts. And my pet shirts. And Johnny and Richie's pet underwear. And I ate the frosting off the cake that you made for Johnny's birthday. I know that you have a lot to do. So just go ahead and cross those things off your list."
He's a changed man.
Granted, his efforts don't always show positive results. At times, they're disastrous. But at least he's trying. He's a benevolent dictator. In other words, he's a parent.