This is the culprit - a pink pig key chain with eyes that light up while the pig oinks really loud.
When Cathy came to NYC she brought them for the girls, a fun little reminder of Charcutepalooza. The girls loved them. They walked around the city with us at night holding their little piggies in their hands, pushing the little button on and off, on and off, oink, oink, oink, oink, admiring the lights and how they bounced off stores and cars and innocent passerbys, on and off, on and off, oink, oink, oink, giggling every time the pig made that loud grunting oink sound. They wouldn't let the pigs out of their sight.
That night, after Lucy had fallen asleep, Edie groggy and eyes heavy, held out her piggie and said, "I love this piggie, Mommy. I'm so happy Mrs. Wheelbarrow gave it to me." On and off, on and off, oink, oink, oi...She fell asleep clutching the pig to her chest. When I woke her up the next morning, it hadn't moved from her fist.
I tweeted that, with all its sweetness, and Cathy got all verklempt about it back home in DC and everyone felt warm and cozy because the children got these great little pigs and life was good and everyone was happy.
We made the children happy. We were awesome. At least on the first night....
The next night, we were in the car on our way to our place in the country. It was late. The kids didn't want to go to sleep. On and off, on and off, oink, oink, on and off.
David and I believe the drive time to New Paltz is sacred. We leave late so the kids fall asleep in the car. We depend on that time. We debrief about the week, catch up on what's happening with our work, strategize about things we need to get done, chat about house renovations, make-fun of people we know (but only in a nice, karma-friendly kind of way, I swear).
I often use that time to get David's opinion about stuff I've been neurotically obsessing about and his ideas and calmness always make me feel better. That drive time is weirdly important to us. A lot of our stuff gets sorted there and we head into the weekend feeling connected to each other. It's nice.
But this time, the pigs were wrecking our good time. The kids were double-teaming us from the back seat. On and off, on and off, on and off, oink, oink, oink. We were patient for a long time. Then, we weren't. Edie, nearly always cooperative and more rational like David, gave hers up, settled into the car seat and nodded off.
But not Lucy.
Lucy's stubbornness is the Great Wall of China - long, high, seemly endless and immovable. She can wear you down with her feet ground into the earth. This is a good thing sometimes - she can focus on a problem or an activity and persist through it with unwavering attention. She doesn't give up. But when it is turned against you, she will not let you move her at any cost, even if means hurting herself, doing the thing that makes her situation worse.
She promised time after time to simply hold the pig and not oink it. She tried hiding it under her coat, oink, sitting on it, oink, putting it in her pocket, oink, but wherever she had it, it oinked and beams of light shot out of its eyes and through the car. After a dozen warnings - really, we gave her so many chances - I unfastened my seat belt, leaned over the front seat and took the pig.
She was furious with me. She cried and wailed and begged me to give it back. When that didn't work and our soft, gentle reassurances that she'd get it back tomorrow didn't please her, she started screaming and banging the back of my seat with her feet. I ignored her. She kept kicking. I asked her gently to stop. She kicked harder. I went back to ignoring her. She kicked and kicked and when that got old and she didn't get the reaction she wanted, she used her words.
She demanded that we give back the pig immediately and when we wouldn't she decided that we would no longer be invited to her birthday and that she and her friends would have the party in the conservatory gardens without us and we'd all be sorry because it was going to be the best party ever...That went on for a while.
Then, when we didn't respond she started yelling about how I was a bad mother and how she thought she might want a new one. She started blowing raspberries at me in between the times she told me what a bad mother I was. It went like this: You are a bad mother...Thwweeerrtt...I want a nice Mommy....Tthhhwwweeerrttt...You are so mean to me...Tttthhhwwwweeerrrrrrrrrrrrrrttttttt... I don't like you....Tttthhhwweeerrrttt...You can't come to my birthday...
At this point, I was seriously hating that pig.
Then there was silence for a little bit as Lucy planned her next move. When it came, it came big. She lurched up against the seat belts and screamed up from behind me, her voice hot and straining, her anger over-flowing and filling the car: "You, you, you...you are a BIG...FAT... FAT...MEATLOAF!
I don't think she knew what she was going to say until it came our of her mouth.
I started laughing so hard in the front seat I had to bury my face in my jacket so she didn't see. I don't know, something about your pissed off five year old, feeling helpless and over-powered, trying to find the absolute worst thing she could think of to hurt you, to make you feel the way she feels...and it was meat loaf.
I kept the pig key chain up front. But I unfastened my seat belt again and climbed over the front seat, sat in the little space in between the two car seats and put my arms around her. She didn't want me to at first. She was prickly, wanting me there and not wanting me there all at the same time. So I just let one of my hands lightly hold one of her hands. We didn't say anything.
Soon, she let her head tilt to the side of the car seat. She laced her fingers in between mine. She let out a yawn. Eventually she closed her eyes. Eventually she forgot about the pig. About her mother the meatloaf.
The next morning, the first thing I did was give her the pig. And she set it back down on the kitchen table and never, not once, picked it up again.