Leah is now 1 ½ years old, and in this short time span, my wife Jen and I have joked many times that Danny, our older child, did not prepare us for parenthood.
Or at least he did not prepare us for Leah. Our sweet 5-year-old boy was and still is a chill kid. Leah is not an easy kid, but she is showing signs of growth. She poops in the toilet regularly, she goes to bed easily and she no longer throws epic tantrums. Thank god.
Honestly, not even Lucas, my former babysitting charge, prepared us for Leah. Lucas is more rambunctious than Danny, but just as sweet as him, too. Leah, she isn’t sweet. She’s adorable, but maddeningly feisty. She kicks, pinches, eye gouges, face scratches and tackles with force. Any time, whether it’s an opportunity or not, she fights.
Her behavior isn’t due to being non-verbal because she’s hyper-verbal just like her brother. It’s just who she is, which leaves us asking, “Where did this child come from?”
Phenotypically, Leah is undeniably Jen and Jacob (our sperm donor and friend). She’s a tiny, fast towhead with bright blue eyes. She talks and sings nonstop and does anything she sees older kids do. Climb up a slide, no problem. Play Perfection, sure. Dress herself, she’s getting there. Drink “spicy” (sparkling) water, it’s her favorite.
The one behavior she won’t emulate is kindness, which baffles me because she’s around it every day. We’re peaceful people. With Leah, it’s debatable. Just today, she pushed a toddler about her age AND his older brother. Complete strangers. Why? I guess she didn’t like the way they looked.
She simply walked up to the toddler, gave him a once over and pushed him. When his brother then approached the two tots, she glanced at him then pushed him, too. Sometimes I feel like I’m raising a jerk. She’s a bully and I can only hope that she won’t remain one.
I often say, “Necesitas ser amable, Leah. Be nice!” or “Say sorry, Leah.” Her favorite responses to these directives are either pure silence while glaring at me or she looks at her victim and says, “Hiiiiiiiii,” which is then followed with a huge smile and bright blue eyes.
Yes, saying “hi” is nice, daughter. But it doesn’t distract from the pain you’ve inflicted upon others.
Naturally, Danny is her most common victim and because he’s so kind, he rarely defends himself and usually cries instead. My 1 ½ year old makes my 5 year old cry, almost daily. You know what, though? Sometimes, rather than crying, Danny pacifies Leah. He’ll give her a bee bop (lollipop), a book or anything else to calm her from her wrath. Even if she’s just clawed his face or karate kicked him to the shoulder (one of her favorite moves), he’ll just brush it off and love her anyway.
I’ll catch the two of them dancing, hiding in a fort, sharing a dessert, sliding down the stairs, reading or laughing uncontrollably together. All unprompted. The love between them is natural, undeniable and melts me.
Then I realize, that’s Leah. Leah is me. She’s Senor, my mom, Jen, Danny, Lucas and our other people, Jacob, Gma, Gpop, Mimi, Mike, Debbie, Bebe and Mark. She’s San Antonio, Salt Lake and Baltimore. Leah is all the love that surrounds her and it’s so abundant that she can’t contain it in that little body of hers.
She releases it in her powerful bursts of psychotic energy, but that love always returns to her because that’s what she’s made of and where she’s from. Love.