Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Logic Lessons: Ideas Girl and the World's Worst Behaved Children

I love Dirty Sexy Money (both the noun accompanied by said qualities and the new soap operatic dramady).

But that is only tangentially what this post is about.

If you saw last week's episode, you might recall the gigantic, comically stout 11 year old girl who terrorizes Brian's illegitimate son. (Incidentally, one of the things that warms me to the show is that although all the Darlings are assholes, the only one who is irredeemably so is a priest --- I should also note in passing that childhood obesity is no laughing matter. Fortunately, I do not hold to a representational view of art so I need be troubled by such worries when laughing about childhood obesity ON TV).

Well, Elena and I met the five year old version of that child at the doctor's office yesterday.

We were there because Elena gave us quite a fright a few nights ago when she started coughing and wheezing in her sleep. We went into the room and she was purple. Fortunately, the ambulance came in a very short time and give her air.

It turns out she wasn't choking. She had the croup. You might have thought that the croup, like tuberculosis, could be found only in the Victorian Era and the South. This is untrue. And despite the fact that illnesses accompanied by the definite article are inherently funny (e.g. the rickets, the shingles, the clap), the croup, like childhood obesity is no laughing matter.

But thanks to the wonders of modern medicine and steroids that would put Barry Bonds to shame (I don't follow sports but assume the reference is still apropos), Elena was fine and her breathing is back to normal.

She was left with a cold which remained severe enough to require a trip to the doctor a few days later, however. Now, Elena is far from perfect (actually that's not true, but if I admit this, then the government will want to run tests on her just like 1980s children's movies convinced me that the government, principally the military, wants to --- and can --- run tests on all special children.) But sometimes she is far from well behaved. Frankly, sometimes she can be quite grumpy (lately, more often than not, I have been a "mistaker" if not "not nice" or a "silly goose.") However, when she gets sick she gets extremely sweet and oddly cheerful.

Thus was she at the doctor's office yesterday. Although we had to wait forever, things were going pretty well. We saw some newborn twins that Elena was interested in, we read some books, we played with toys.

And then, they came in.

The uncomical kind of desperate housewife and her two loutish children. We'll call them 4 years old and 20 months. The important thing to note, for reasons that will become clear below, is that the older girl (who really did look almost identical to the girl on Dirty Sexy Money, from her beer belly to her --- and I feel terrible for saying this --- puggish face) is certainly older than Elena and the younger boy certainly younger.

Now, Elena, being more attuned to the schoolyard bully than I, immediately sensed trouble. When the children came over to the play area, Elena said "I don't want him to throw things at me." "He won't," I said. He did. This was early on in the two children's rampage. The older sister (whose seven year older doppelgaenger appeared on Dirty Sexy Money) ran over and tried to take Elena's toy. Because her mother didn't say anything, I told the girl. "Actually, we're playing with that one." Once the girl was already leaving, her mother called over and said "Allie, leave that girl alone." She then turned to another parent and said "they're fine when they're alone, but when they get together ..." and went back to her ineffective, furtive glances around the room.

Meanwhile, the two savages, neither of whom, so far as I could ascertain, had logos, proceeded to actually tear the room apart. They didn't just run around and play with the toys. They were too busy removing every toy they could get their grubby little mitts on and simply throwing it. Well, the 20 month old was throwing them, while "Allie" was moving in front of the entrance to the office (I can only assume so that when her mother shrugged and gave into her request for matches, none of the rest of us would be able to escape the ensuing inferno alive).

Elena watched them in fascination and terror. Another family with two children was sitting across from us, and the father tarted reading his children and Elena a story. Both of us tried hard to pretend that we weren't somehow in the Heart of Darkness, but around this little outpost, apocalypse was in fact now. Then the other civilized family was called back, and Elena and I were left to fend for ourselves.

Elena went back to watching the damage unfold. At one point she said to me: "I don't want him to throw more things." I said to her, "I won't let him throw anything at you, but he is younger than you and sometimes littler children don't know how to play with toys as well as you do."

Elena looked over at Allie. Then she pointed at her: "Is she younger than me?"

She had me there.

"It's rude to point," I said.


Ideas Man, Ph.D. said...

I actually forgot the most hilarious thing the thuggish kids did. At the doctor's office, there is a steering wheel type toy affixed to the wall. Well, these two kids spent several minutes working together, shaking and rattling it and trying to pry it off the wall. It was like they thought they were in some 80s hair band and the office was their hotel room.

Joe said...

I am pretty sure the croup is relatively common. Also, while it is often believed that tuberculosis is a disease of the past that was effectively ended by the development of streptomycin and other antibiotics, this is false. TB has actually been on the rise in the U.S. over the past decade, I think. Now, calling it "consumption" might be a thing of the past...

My favorite part of the whole fat obnoxious kid story is the part where the the mom says that they are good when they are apart. Tremendous...maybe they should be moved into separate foster homes, then...

Ideas Man, Ph.D. said...

I don't think any foster homes would want them.