Noah, on the other hand, shares my quality of extremes. He snuggles like he's made of Play-doh, molding perfectly into you and resting his fuzzy blond head in the crook under your chin. He gives beautifully wonderful little kisses, and says lovely things to you if the mood strikes him. Like, "You're just the best Mom. Don't ever leave me." But then, most days, it's more likely that you'll see his more demonic side. "You are a BAD MOMMY. I want you to GO AWAY. FOREVER!!!" This is usually accompanied by some really attractive kicking and screaming. Sometimes on both our parts.
Yesterday, Noah was having an uglier day. I can't remember what exactly precipitated it, but I do know that he was having a good, healthy yell in the hall by the stairs. I sat down on the bottom step in front of him, using my calm Change-The-World voice, and said, "Noah, use your words. What do you need right now? What will help you get it? Not yelling. Not being mean."
Noah paused momentarily, as though deciding whether or not I could be right, and then leaned right in my face to give me a holler (not a "holla!" which I don't fully understand, anyway). When he did so, he tripped, mouth still open, and accidentally bit the bridge of my nose. It hurt so bad, I saw stars and my eyes watered. Not saying anything, but maybe gasping from the shock of it, I got up and walked away.
I went into my bathroom to see if there was any visible damage. When, I did, Big Joe must have realized something had happened. I heard him say to Noah, "Why is Mommy in the bathroom?"
And Noah, bold as anything, said, "I bit Mommy!" He wasn't proud, but I think he thought if he said it loudly, then it might lessen his chances of being in trouble.
I could hear Joe's heavy silence from the bathroom. And then, "You bit your Mommy? Noah! That is very, very bad!"
While Joe handled that end of things and the pain in my nose lessened, I decided to have some fun.
I closed the door, and pulled out my makeup case. My nose looked fine, but Noah needed a consequence for this. One that would definitely bring out his more sensitive side. I took up my favorite eyeshadow for going out: a nice, rich purple. Using my finger, I streaked it across the bridge of my nose. It was so obviously fake, but Noah would never know that. Working up my most serious face, I opened the door and went out to see my son.
Joe was crouched in front of Noah, looking stern. He glanced up at me briefly as I stood there, and then did a dramatic double take. His eyes rounded in panic for a split second before they registered what I'd done, and then he stood abruptly. His shoulders shaking, he turned away from us and said, his voice barely controlled, "Noah! Look what you did to Mommy!"
Noah was frozen. The horror at my grotesqueness was plain on his face, but he refused to give in to it. "What?" he said, his voice shaking slightly. "I don't see anything."
Joe whirled around, now in control of the laughter (though I noticed he wouldn't look directly at me). "Noah! Look at Mommy's face! You did that!"
Noah just stood still, looking at the floor. Every few seconds, he'd sneak a glance at me and look away again.
"Noah," I said, "we were supposed to go to Target together. What will people think when they see my face like this?" Indeed, I was thinking that very thing. They'd probably think, "What got into THAT girl with her makeup??"
Noah looked up then, his chin trembling. "I don't think it's a good idea to go to Target." And the floodgates opened. Giant tears fell from his eyes. "I'm so sorry I did that to you, Mommy!" he wailed.
I dropped down to my knees in front of him and pulled him close, rubbing his back. "You didn't mean it," I acknowledged. "But why did it happen?"
He whispered, "Because I was angry and yelling. But I'm just so, so sorry." He pulled back and looked in my eyes. "Will it get better?"
I smiled at his goodness, because how could you not? It's always there, beneath all the trouble and fuss he makes. "I think it will get better, but not right away. Maybe I can put some makeup on and cover it up, though."
Just then, little Joey came running into the room, all energy and goodness and ants. "Hey, Mom! Mom, I--"
He paused, dead in his tracks, gaping at my face.
"OH MY GOD!" he cried. "Your face! You look AWFUL! Oh, God, Noah, what did you do to our Mom?!"
This made me want to laugh all over again, but I held on. "I think I can cover it with makeup," I reassured him.
Joey recovered himself. "That's good. Because if other people saw you like that, they would probably all want purple bruises on THEIR noses. That's how beautiful you are."
The way I see it, my kids are both like fictional characters. Noah is Anakin Skywalker, forever tempted by the dark side, but filled with passion and anger. Joey? Joey is Wilbur from Charlotte's Web.