"Transformers! No one meets the skies," Paolo's voice piped through the house. I joined in, singing the actual lyrics from the cartoon's theme song. Silly me, I'd forgotten that nothing pisses off a five-year-old like being corrected. In a rude, condescending voice, my know-it-all son told me how very, very wrong I was about the whole thing. Robots in disguise? Hah! The song says no such thing. Paolo lectured me slowly, enunciating each word of the bungled lyrics like he was explaining 'sit' to a mildly retarded puppy. A nerve in my left eyeball started to twitch. "Listen, Paolo, I'm pretty smart...," I began. Paolo interruped, "I'm pretty smart, too. I know how to spell play. P-L-A-Y. I know things!"
It was late, and I was waltzing the baby to sleep in Paolo's room because he can't fall asleep alone. (Yes, I wrote waltzing, not walking. Gianluca has been having a lot of trouble falling asleep lately, with screaming and bucking. For whatever reason, my hurky-jerky attempt at ballroom dancing does the trick. Call me Twinkletoes.) So. Between the fussy, floppy, tired baby and the willful five-year-old noise machine, I was on edge. I barked at Paolo, who was lying on his bed sideways with his legs up the wall, to LAY DOWN. He told me no. I walked out of his room and closed the door behind me. He immediately got out of bed and ran to open the door. I was waiting on the other side, furious-faced, and demanded, "Do you say no to me?" Paolo started to answer, but couldn't because I had asked him an impossible question. He had such a perfect oh-shit expression on his face, I couldn't help but erupt with laughter.
I like Five, I do, but it wears me out. Five is literal, scatter-brained, clever, infuriating and hilarious. Five can make me so mad my skin vibrates. But just when Five is making me re-evaluate my stance on corporal punishment, Five says or does something that makes me smile, totally undermining the impression I'm trying to make of how much trouble he's in. I'm figuring out that I don't need to fight the urge to enjoy a moment of levity with my kid. I need to relish those moments.