My brother Mike is the father of three boys. Three boys who are very boy. I remember clearly one visit to their home, when my youngest nephew was two-ish. I spent the entire time suffering from acute anxiety as I watched the boy scale everything in sight, stand in the middle of the kitchen table and yell, and come thisclose to grave injury approximately every five minutes. It was harrowing, to say the least.

And I judged.

Katie was the kind of baby (and toddler, and child) who would keep you on your toes verbally, but would never even consider getting into, well, anything. Julia presents her own unique challenges, but I can generally turn my back on her for more than 3 seconds without disaster.

Then there’s Henry.

When my mom told my brother I was having a boy, he laughed. A lot. Hard. I maintained my superior attitude, and even coached my little babe in the womb.

“You are the compliant child. You listen to Mommy. You are a good boy.”

For the first year of his life, he did indeed comply. Mostly. He is a sweet natured boy, very loving and cute and funny and charming. I mean, look at the kid!

Sunday, the Husband and I watched for 20 minutes as Henry threw the mother of all tantrums. He lay face up, with only his feet and the top of his head touching the ground, screaming and pushing himself around the room.

What is wrong with him?
I don’t know.
Is he sick?
I don’t know.
Should we take him to the hospital?
I don’t know.   

He pushed himself under one side of the crib and out the other. I put him in the bath, screaming. I took him out, still screaming.

Is he having some sort of psychotic break?
I don’t know.
Well, what is the matter?
I don’t know!

I took him outside, naked, and he stopped screaming. He smiled.

He is nuts.
I know.

He climbs the unclimbable. He opens the unopenable. He eats the inedible (Fireplace rocks? Really?). He misses corners by fractions of an inch a million times a day. He is two handfuls. All the while (usually) maintaining a sweet disposition and impish smile that makes it completely impossible to be angry with him.

I thought of my brother, and my nephews, this morning as Henry pushed his highchair over to the table, climbed up on the table and then onto the tray of the highchair, all in the time it took me to look down and dial the phone. I thought of him when I didn’t panic and run, but merely sighed and got him down. Again.

Compliant children make for self righteous parents. My apologies to you, my brother – I hope you’re enjoying seeing this one bite me in the ass.*

 *Henry hasn’t actually bitten me in the ass. Yet.