“Look At Something Else!”
Mischievous kid makes clumsy attempt at misdirection
Kina is, in the way four year olds are, not very good at misdirection. She takes great pleasure in misbehaving while my back is turned, but only if she knows that I know that she is misbehaving. In general, that mischief is benign: throwing her dirty socks at my head, say, or hiding a rock underneath my pillow. I dutifully turn to face the window, waiting for her to scream “look!” before I spin around. Her pajamas are draped over my computer; she cackles wildly.
I realized as I drew the paper this morning that Kina isn’t even as crafty as the illustration here would suggest. She wouldn’t think to distract me with a pigeon or a balloon. She just says “look at something else”—really, anything other than her nonsense. “Something else,” meaning “away”. “Something else,” meaning “not what’s right in front of you”. “Something else,” meaning “not Kina”.
It’s always “something else”, because I don’t want to turn away from her. These days, it’s just hard for me not to look at Kina, which makes it hard for her to engage in surprising nonsense. But I do, because it makes her happy. I stare at the lamp on my dresser, and I know that Kina is somewhere else, doing something I probably don’t want her to do, even though I know she’s amused. And I think about all the time she’s going to spend doing exactly that in school and as a teenager and as an adult, while I just quietly tell myself that it’ll all work out. And then she screams “look!” and I turn around to see that, poof, she’s there again, a little kid wearing her pajama bottoms on her head, just pleased to have fooled me. And she’s always laughing.
I’ll gladly spend the rest of my life looking away, as long as I know that this kid has something to laugh about, and that she’ll be there when I turn around. Even if it means I have to find her socks.