This past summer, while traveling between the sourdough-filled air of San Francisco, California and the coffee-fueled weirdness of Portland, Oregon, Reina came to the realization that she could control (or more like manipulate) the adults around her.
It all began when Reina and I arrived in San Francisco back in June. We struck out for the city library (which has a fantastic children’s section) to meet a friend. The only hitch was that the library would not open for another 30 minutes. Feeling a bit peckish, we wandered over to a quaint local joint (Burger King) for some authentic San Fran eats. Reina promptly declared she would like to order chicken tenders, but they were not available for breakfast. Jet-lagged, tired, and missing Mama (who would join after four weeks), Reina immediately began to cry. Counter lady came unglued and, in a panic, grabbed a kid’s meal toy from under the counter and thrust it into Reina’s hands, beseeching her not to cry. To no surprise, the crying stopped, and though it escaped counter lady’s detection, I could see the wheels in Reina’s brain churning away with this new insight into the adult psyche. In the thought bubble above her head, I could clearly read Reina’s hypothesis: public crying + adults = reward.
Like any good scientist, Reina realized that her formula was crude and would require further testing and analysis. A two-month-long trip in California and Oregon would provide the perfect backdrop to iron out the kinks in her logic. Cue the waterworks!
Naturally, for that first month without Mama, Baba was her primary test case. My well-adjusted, model child would choose some random thing in a store (typically pink) and express a need to have it. Whenever her request was denied, she cried. Oddly enough, she did not find success in this method, despite numerous attempts to achieve the desired outcome. Despite her efforts, her net gain was zero, so she adjusted her formula: public crying + adults – Baba = reward.
After Savvy arrived, Reina tested her new theory on Mama with mixed results. At times, Savvy (under the influence of jet-lag) would cave in and buy something. A prime example was when Reina (under the influence of a TV commercial) saw a Pillow Pet and had to have it. She pulled the pouty face, praised its worthy attributes as both a pillow and a pet, and, when all else failed, she began to cry. So Savvy bought it for her, but only after Reina promised not to cry anymore. However, most of the time Savvy held her ground, especially if I was nearby for added support. This led Reina to tweak her hypothesis again: public crying + adults – (Baba and sometimes Mama) = reward.
Finally, while shopping for clothes with her cousins, Reina fancied a bracelet and asked me if I would purchase it for her. When the answer was no, she began to cry and explain (eloquently between sobs) how she needed the jewelry and would never ask for anything else again. As usual, I held my ground, but just as we were leaving the store and before I could intervene, Reina’s cousin bought it for her – thus reinforcing Reina’s hypothesis.
Despite this setback, I’m hopeful that Reina will stop crying in order to manipulate people. No doubt she will stop doing this in a reasonable amount of time – hopefully in the next 10 to 15 years.