After Bot was born, Matty went through this phase I politely referred to as the Attention Bug. That day, I found the perfect t-shirt that summed up his entire life status at the time:
Turns out, over a year later, there is still no one I know who is more fitting for this t-shirt than Marty, or as he’d probably like to be referred to as: Prince Matty of the Midwestern Isle. Grandson of Sir Batman, Son of King Paw Patrol and answerer to no one.
Where as he used to compete with Abbott for our attention, it has now become clear that he has realized he is in fact Abbott’s God. As such, Seth and I have become his servants and Bot his right-hand man, blinded by admiration and easily manipulated. No amount of affection is enough and there is no such thing as too much. It’s out of control and I’m completely blaming his adorable looks and sly charm, both of which I hope escape him soon and return when he’s far too nerdy to be pulled off course – but no sooner than the age of 20.
He comes home almost every day from school with a neatly drawn picture, sometimes with his name on it, sometimes with impeccable stick figures of his royal family, other times with brightly colored flowers and his own personal touches. At first it was sweet because ‘awe, a teacher at school loves him enough to draw him pictures‘, and the first time one of them got hastily folded in half we could bring it home to our castle, he lost his mind. Kicking, screaming, SOBBING, wailing. You would have thought someone cut his foot off. But, still, his attachment to the pictures was adorable.
That was until I began to notice he was refusing to color or draw his own pictures at home. He’d say things like, ‘Well, Mom, I can’t do it.’ (THE WORST) and ‘Well, Mom, I want you to do it.’ (THE SECOND WORST). I began having flashbacks to my days as a college student working at the university preschool. There was nothing worse than the smart, capable kids who refused to do shit for themselves. THE IRONY. It would drive. me. insane. I remember sitting there afternoon after afternoon drawing the same picture of the same turtle or dinosaur or airplane while silently cursing their parents whom I had naively assumed did everything for them at home. Eventually, at the end of my patience, I had to make a rule that I wouldn’t draw anything or do anything for anyone unless they tried on their own first
Who knew a decade later I’d be implementing that very same rule in my own home for my very own kid? Reminder: karma is real.
I had hoped this rule would help but rather, the attention bug is spreading, and possibly mutating into the I’m-completely-helpless-this-must-be-what-mom-and-dad-are-for bug. The other night, Matty was sitting at his two-foot tall table when he dropped a chunk of Play-Doh on the ground. Instead of bending over and picking it up, he slung his body over the side of his chair and reached pathetically toward the Play-Doh on the ground, straining his small fingers while he groaned and whined, “Mooooooooom. Help. Meeeeeeee. MOOOOM! HELLLLLP.”
I couldn’t believe my eyes.
“Moooooooom. I can’t reach it. Get it…for meeeeeeeee.”
“Matheson. You are 12 inches off of the ground, bend over and pick it up.”
He strained. “BUT! MOOOOOOM, I CANNNNNN’T.”
I had to walk out of the room. This is a recurrence at our house and each time I walk away I wonder how many more times until it works. I have yet to see the light.
Later, he and his brother were in the bath when Abbott took a giant tub dump. And wouldn’t you know it, rather than getting out of the bath tub – which I’ve watched him do many times – Matty stood in the shit water and wailed, “ABBOTT POOPED IN THE BATH! ABBOTT POOPED ON ME! AHHH! THE POOP! MOM! THE POOP! ABBOTT POOPT IN THE BATH! HELP MEEEEE!” Seth, who walked into the house right at that moment, would later describe Matty’s face as that of someone who had been trapped by a mountain lion. At least Matty had convinced one of his servants of his inabilities.
Now, the question is, if he’ll stand in a tub full of shit water before he helps himself, is there actually a light at the end of this tunnel?
Toddlers and preschoolers are such complex creatures and their imaginations are enviable, I just wish my child would imagine himself as something other than a privileged member of the royal family.
But in the meantime, if anyone wants to come draw my attention-starved preschooler beautiful pictures with a box of broken crayons and pick up his Play-Doh crumbs off of the kitchen floor, my door is O P E N.
I mean. Just look at him. If that’s not the face of a kid who thinks he is royalty, I don’t know what is.