Being the parent of a toddler is a lot different in your forties than it was in your twenties. On the one hand, you're wiser, more patient, more experienced. On the other, you're tired all of the time.
Miss Bear was born the week before I turned forty. Technically, I had her in my thirties, but from the frazzled appearance of my hair and my wrinkled clothes—right down to mismatched socks—you'd never know it. I have dark circles under my eyes and my gaze stares off into the distance, only coming into focus when a potential disaster looms.
Miss Bear is, allegedly, a human child, but my personal opinion holds that she is actually an agent of chaos incarnate. She is brilliant and creative at being bad.
In stores, she is a runner. No electronics are safe from her destructive path. Cats watch her with constant suspicion. White walls and doors are decorated with her murals done in permanent marker. (At first, Mrs. Snark tried Magic Eraser but it never really worked.)
Now Mrs. Snark sighs and says to Mr. Snark, "We'll paint in a few years once she's done."
The oldest Snark son has proven adept at protecting Miss Bear from herself and everyone around her. He shouts and removes choking hazards from her grasp. He snitches on her, issuing loud warnings like, "Miss Bear has a pair of scissors and is after the cat!"
When she makes a break for it at the grocery store, he dutifully chases her down and hauls her back. "ARRRRR," he growls, dropping the precious child into the shopping cart. "She's driving me nuts!"
"It's karmic justice, boy," Mrs. Snark says. "She's just like you were as a baby. Only then I didn't have a teenager to chase you down."
However, when it comes to managing Miss Bear's excessive energy and unstable mood swings, the middle Snark son has proven to be a Godsend. He can make her smile when no one else can. He performs goofy dances for her pleasure and gallops about the house on all fours with the baby clinging to his back.
Quite often his name is hollered in the midst of a Miss Bear tantrum. "Boy, we need you!"
And he races to save the day. He leans in close to Miss Bear's ear and murmurs something softly and the tears stop. When no one else can coax so much as a smile out of her, he makes her laugh.
We call him The Baby Whisperer.