I’ve made a huge mistake, internet.
You see, my son has evolved from the lump stage of human life (AKA “infancy”) and grown into what is called “a toddler.” For those who don’t know about toddlers, they’re walking, talking representations of the worst part of you. I don’t mean that toddlers are bad people. They’re adorable,
most some of the time. But like our friend the elephant, a toddler never forgets. If you swear, he’ll swear. If you drink milk out of the carton, he’ll spill it all over the kitchen floor in an attempt to mimic your behavior.
And that’s how you get ants.
I’ve been a parent for…well, since Parenting.com started sending me monthly newsletters that I cannot get to stop coming into my inbox. (I assume this is a metaphor for real-life parenting. You cannot unsubscribe from parenting, only mark it as spam and hope there’s only one subscription.) Since the beginning, I tried to curb my shitty behaviors. We eat healthier food now. I only play violent video games after he’s gone to bed. I swear…less? Okay, that last one is a stretch.
BUT THE POINT IS I’VE GROWN.
Except I didn’t foresee the trolling.
I didn’t know. I couldn’t know.
Who expects a toddler to know what it means to troll?
Not I. And I spent four years in college learning the internet trade.
Last week my son came to me in tears because he couldn’t find his security blanket. (Okay, okay. It’s a burp cloth. It’s filthy and mangled and Target no longer sells them. I’m screwed.) It couldn’t have gone far, so we rummaged around the usual locations; bed, couch, kitchen counter. Nothing. With each failed search attempt, his eyes filled with more sadness, and I felt responsible for his lost burp cloth.
Like this, only LOUDER and SADDER.
I became frantic, remembering the night my sister lost her Purple Pillow and how it devastated her for years, but I tried to hide my concern. He was too young to face that kind of loss. “Where do you think you left it, buddy?”
“Uhm…the bathroom. Maybe?”
He followed me around with a slow limp, obviously because he was so distraught he had lost his favorite thing in the world. I could empathize. I think we all know how I still feel about Firefly.
After nearly half an hour of checking every corner, every couch cushion, all the nooks, and all the disgusting crannies, I was ready to quit. I knelt to my son’s level and said with a heavy heart, “I’m sorry, buddy. I can’t find it. Can we play with something else? Maybe it will turn up later.”
And then he did something both magical and infuriating. From behind his back, he pulled out the burp cloth that had been stuffed down a pant leg.
Well, that explains the limp.
I’d been had.
He tricked me so completely I didn’t know if the swell in my chest was from outrage or pride. The tears, the meek words, the languid walk around the house, ALL A RUSE. Two years old and already trolling.
I can’t be angry. I did set a precedent. Toddler see, toddler do.
But now I’m onto him. I know the ways of a troll. He will not bait me and succeed a second time.
Oh my god, please help me. I am dealing with a miniature version of myself.
TELL ME YOUR BEST TROLL STORIES.