Today, I fell into the trap of "Make stuff up to quiet the kid and have it come back to bite me in the rear." It was bound to happen sooner or later.
We were out in the backyard (or the "backyarg" in Elliott-speak) wiling away the hour until dinner. Elliott was following us around, begging us to find him sticks that he could toss over the fence, one of his favorite games. Then suddenly, he remembered the feather--the grubby little, mite-infested bluejay feather he'd locked his first around last week. He played with that feather for the better part of an hour, trying to push it down the slide, throwing it into the air and watching it spin, throwing it on the ground and making Mommy and Daddy search frantically for it before heart-rending screaming ensued.
Fast-forward a few days to today. Suddenly, Elliott looks up and me and asks, "Feather?"
"I don't know, Elliott."
"FEATHER?" (Blue eyes start filling with tears.) "FEATHER?"
"Well, Elliott," I say brightly. "I bet the bird who lost that feather came back looking for it."
(Wait, look, oh, yeah, he's buying it. Uh, huh. Go mommy! Go mommy!)
Elliott seemed satisfied. 4:45 p.m. Witching Hour meltdown neatly averted.
But as I patted myself on the back, I felt a tiny pang of guilt for, well, basically, lying to the little guy. But I shook it away, thinking, "No, no...I was just anthropomorphizing. Really, it's an art form. A way to describe and explain things mysterious. Giving human qualities to non-human things. Your toys don't WANT to go with us in the car. I was using my poetic license. My English degree is not for naught.
We carried on and had dinner. The usual minor tantrum-ing ensued that involved the expected table-banging, food-scattering, and, ultimately, fork-flinging.
"Elliott!" I shrieked. "Why would you do that?? Why would you throw your fork on the floor??"
"Floor wanted it," he says, with total wide-eyed innocence.
"What?" I ask. (Nuh-uh. He did NOT just say that.)
"Floor wanted it."
I honestly didn't know how to react to that one. My first reaction was to swell with pride at his incredible creativity. Then I wondered if he could actually have been manipulating me right back by calling my bluff on that whole "bird-came-back-for-feather" thing. Or maybe I should be worried that he might actually think the floor has feelings?
I couldn't ponder for long. Elliott decided that he wanted the fork much more acutely than the floor ever could. I didn't want to completely cede control (ha!) so I bribed him to eat a couple more bites of hamburger in exchange for said fork. (And a couple more bites in exchange for a one-inch wide strip of organic ice cream sandwich.)
So, I'm not going to win any Mother of the Year Awards tonight. Ah, well. My kid can anthropomorphize and he ate more bites of red meat tonight than he has in the last six months put together. So there.