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What Goes Around Comes Around

How can the person who brings you the most joy also be the person who can drive you to the brink of insanity?

Sometimes when I am with Caroline she brings me total peace. Like a zen moment, I can actually feel my breathing slow, my heart calm and my mind clearing. When she puts her arms around me and I feel her chest rising and falling in sync with mine, I am taken to a new level of consciousness. I am so happy it makes me want to cry and often the moment brings real tears to my eyes.

Tears also come to my eyes on many other occasions with Caroline. As quickly as she can calm me, she can agitate me. It's like she has a good girl/bad girl switch that turns on and off as quick as the "That Was Easy Button". I know her behavior is a stage because the terrible twos actually happen during the third year but it doesn't make it any easier for me to accept or to deal with.

A bad attitude for Caroline starts at sun up and ends at sun down. It's as though she has decided, in her dreams, to act like Satan's spawn for an entire day. She dedicates herself to 12-14 hours of putting me through toddler tempter tantrum hell, no breaks necessary.

And she enjoys it. She has a little, secret smile that she gives me as she tests my patience. After telling her not to do something she will look right at me while she does it again. She wants to see my reaction.

Andy and I have tried a number of Super Nanny tactics to curtail Rosemary's baby. We try calmly talking to her like we would an irritating colleague in a meeting, "Caroline: while I understand your perspective on the issue, putting the keys in the potty will result in Mommy and Daddy not being able to drive the cars, or drive you anywhere and that won't make any of us happy."

We are the punishers. We do corner time outs, time outs in her room and take away her lovey. We make her help us clean up her spills and apologize for rough housing. And yes, we do spankings. Come on, talking to your kid like you are in a disagreement at the office does NOT work and we'd all like to turn the annoying client on his or her tummy and give them a swift spank. Being the budding actress, Caroline throws her body on the floor, cries inconsolably and juts out her lower lip, if she wants sympathy. Or, if she's feeling really confident, she gives her little "make me" smile and reenacts the bad action, says yes to our "you want to get spanked?" threats or runs away laughing.

We are the victims. A long day locked in the house, away from the rain and snow, can lead to a hostage-like situation.

"Hello. 9.1.1"

"Yes, Operator. I need help. Now!"

"Ok- what's going on?"

"Someone is in my house and I'm pretty sure she is trying to kill me. I'm hiding between the washer and dryer right now in the laundry room. I've barricaded the door with the dirty clothes hamper. But she keeps banging on the door, calling out. I'm terrified. "

"Ok- what is she saying?"

"Mommy!"

Caroline has a deal with the men in the white coats. Every time she throws to the floor a stack of neatly sorted papers, colors on a freshly painted wall, spills milk on my laptop, pulls the cat's tail, refuses a nap, runs away from me in a parking lot or empties a bottle of body lotion onto the bathroom floor, she knows that Mommy is one step closer to the looney bin.

It reminds me: my mom used to recite a poem which she felt best described me:

There once was a girl with a curl in the middle of her forehead. When she was good she was very good. When she was bad she was horrid.

At least when I get to the mental ward I'll already know my roommate. I bet good old mom will even have my bed made for me.

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