‘Splaining Los Mocos

Maybe she’s only three, but Fern is frequently my adversary.

As much as I try to avoid conflict — and let’s face it, some days I just don’t try that hard — she and I end up on opposite sides of some issue every other hour or so.

  • “Sit while you’re eating.”
  • “Eat while you’re sitting.”
  • “No playing light saber with your baby sister.”

And in such situations, it’s impossible not to imagine we’re engaged in our own little war, except that Normandy’s shore is the littered floor of her room and our great truces run along the lines of “two more bites and then you get a cookie.”

Fern’s a tough kid, I guess.

But then I get reminded that tough or not, she is, in fact, still a kid.

And this kind of stuff is scary to a kid:


At the doctor’s office today, witnessing this scene, it suddenly sunk in that all my cajoling (arguing) and persuading (reprimanding) really boils down to explaining. Explaining that running around during dinner isn’t healthy or pleasant. Explaining that the two-week-long rumbling nighttime cough is just phlegm and nothing infectious or asthmatic. (Nor, I must explain, are the ghost zombie monsters to blame — we watch a lot of Scooby-Doo.) And I explain that the point of the scary smelly mask is to knock those nasty bogeys out and make sleep come more easily. Maybe I’ll get ambitious and explain that she is, in fact, lucky in this country to have insurance that covers the office visit and the take-home meds.

It will come as a surprise to no one that all those explanations fall on the more or less deaf ears of a little girl that just wants to rip the damn mask off. But that doesn’t keep me from trying, and feeling more or less a failure for not being able to get my message across.