We’ve been giving Bub a jelly bean every time he goes pee on the potty.
This reward system would be a lot more effective if he actually ate the jelly beans. He did try one, and then spit it back out again, gagging. But he still likes them – when I give him one he rolls it between his finger and thumb, places it carefully in his ear, and looks startled when I scream and pull it out again. Eventually, he gets distracted and leaves it on the floor.
That’s where the Pie comes in.
Unlike her brother, the Pie loves jelly beans. She will sit on the potty, straining with all her might to produce a tiny little dot of poo and then jump up saying, “I did it! I want a jello bean!”
She gets one every time her brother does, of course, in addition to the ones she scavenges from under the coffee table after Bub has abandoned them. Yesterday, she found a little cherry-red bean on the kitchen floor. I had warned Bub repeatedly that he needed to put it in his mouth (not his ear), or else Pie would get it, but he took that advice in the spirit of philosophical dissent with which he receives all such words of counsel. So when Pie found her rightful booty, I hesitated, fatally.
“Whose jelly bean is that?” I asked her in a warning tone.
She froze, closing her fist over the contraband and looking carefully away from it. “It’s mine?” she said hopefully.
“I think it’s Bub’s jelly bean,” I admonished. “You should give it back to him.”
“No,” she objected mildly, “It’s mine.” Then, with a sudden movement, she popped it in her mouth, just as Bub came into the kitchen.
His face was a mask of horror. “You, you, you – you stole it!” he spluttered, aghast.
Pie chewed vigorously. “It’s gone!” she announced at last.
And some people thought stealing the duck was bad.
Happy birthday, little Pie! You are lying and stealing, discovering your desires and pursuing them with vigour. “I want a yellow shirt!” you announced yesterday when I found you in your crib, stripped down to a diaper and pointing insistently at the dresser. “I want a hockey stick!” you told your dad, when he asked what you wanted for your birthday. “I want a jello bean!” you announce periodically throughout the day, gazing longingly at the kitchen cupboards.
The only thing stronger than your sense of greed is your powerful sense of self. “I’m Cate!” you announce confidently whenever confused grown-ups ask nonsensical questions like “Are you a sweetie? Are you my little girl? Are you a Pie?” No. You’re Cate. You wear the name I chose for you with panache, wholly unaware that so essential a part of your identity could have been selected by another, long before you were born.
The birthday girl ... and her hockey stick.