It was just my daughter.
A freakishly giant-haired Italian gentleman surprised me today at the park by looking up from his laptop and asking me, "Let me ask you this question, Miss? Do you think having children was worth it? In despite of every hard things and all sacrifice?" and once I had blinked twice to recover from the weirdness of this as a conversation opener, I said, "absolutely" with no hesitation whatsoever. My new large-maned friend looked surprised by my answer, possibly because Maggie was smearing banana on me and squawking in my face "I want down! I need down! No banana! I'm not happy! Hey! Hey! HEY! HEY! HEY!" at the time, and I was not therefore the poster child for Parental Satisfaction. Which is my way of illustrating the point that Maggie is, how should I say, going through a PHASE right now. The kind that makes me check her head for rudimentary devil horns on a bi daily basis.
I know that kids go through these charming adjustments. Back in September, Max went through one, leaving us baffled as to why his sunny and agreeable self had abruptly transformed into a maniacal crabby crab. Then he got over it and we all breathed a sigh of relief. Kids have bodies and brains that grow in these dizzying leaps and spurts, and sometimes they get testy while their brains and bodies are catching up with each other. I know this from my schooling, from teaching, and from parenting, and I can mostly roll with the moods with my trademark humor and grace firmly intact. What scares me, though, is that Maggie has always been opinionated. And by always, I mean that as a two week old embryo, she exercised absolute and unapologetic authority over what and when I was allowed to eat, sleep, or breathe, and it has escalated from there.
I am not sure if it's because she is the second kid in the family, or if it's because she's sort of insanely smart (I could offer you proof that this is true, for instance mentioning that she can already identify all her letters and knows how to write an "M", but then I'd be one of those Davis Parents who corner you and breathe, "my child is actually a certified genius" at you every chance they get, and I am definitely NOT one of those parents. Nope.), or if it's just because she came out looking like a Fry and evidently it's internal, too, but it has become very hard to take Maggie anywhere. She believes with every ounce of her being that she has all the necessary skills to choose her own path through the world, and throws a giant, fall-to-the-ground-and-howl-tantrum if anyone dares to even suggest picking her up, putting her in a seat or stroller or cart, or even holding her hand. This would be fine, I guess, if it weren't for the fact that she vastly overestimates her ability to identify and stay out of trouble. Grocery store trips that include Maggie now include a choice between shopping with an indignantly screeching toddler who is pinned down in the cart while other shoppers shoot pointed glances, or failing to get any actual shopping done while preventing a free range Maggie from burying herself in an avalanche of dairy products while climbing the milk shelf. Trips to other places ... well, we don't really try to go other places anymore.
Sure, I know that Maggie will eventually either outgrow the need to exert quite so much independent spirit or grow into better judgement to accompany her independent spirit, and in the meanwhile, she is so very fuzzy-haired and soft and sly-humored that I think we will probably keep her. (It is even possible that, despite all logistical problems associated with her ferocity, we like her all the more because of it.) However, since my grocery store trips are few, far-between, and fraught for the time being, if you want to drop by and bring supplies, feel free.