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There is a new child in the house. We call her “Mimi.”  Rather than view this new addition with untrammeled joy, the Hub and I are not overly fond of this new little one and wish that she would return to the crabby dimension that spawned her. At times, we’ve considered leaving Mimi on the back stoop for the gypsies to pick up and sell to the highest bidder (gypsies still make house calls, yes?). I can’t imagine that they’d get much for Mimi, what with the red face and the hysterical tears and the endless demands. But the gypsies know their own business, I suspect, and will charge only what the market will bear.

No, I didn’t have another baby. This is the same one as before. The Diva is two (and a couple of months) old now. The Diva is a delight. Her alter-ego Mimi, however, gets on everyone’s last nerve. It’d be easier to endure if Mimi gave us some warning before she dropped in, a small sign like Clark Kent slipping into the phone booth and sliding into his unitard and cape. But Mimi comes  with random frequency, with nary a flag to signal the sudden turns. “Me do it!” she’ll scream out of the clear blue. “Me have it! Me touch it! Me! Me!” Then there is swooning. Mimi will crumple to the ground like so many fall leaves and kick her feet like a backstroker while fat tears run down her cheeks. Two can be so undignified, especially when you don’t get your way.

I could deal with the Screaming Mimi -- after all, I get a little cranky when I don’t get my way -- if she weren’t so contrary. All I ask is that Mimi commit to her demands, rather than change her mind mid-fit. “I no want to sit in the carseat,” Mimi screams as we wrestle in the backseat like a couple of teenagers. I can pin one arm and get it strapped down, yet as I capture the other flailing limb, she frees the first. This simple act now takes 20 sweaty minutes. Once we get to our destination, we do the same dance in reverse. “I no want to get out of my carseat,” she screams, gearing up to cry again. “Me me stay here.”  And as I start to free one arm, she pulls the strap back over her shoulders.  Frequently, my only goal is to not start screaming myself, letting my own cries of “Stop it! Just stop it!” drown out Mimi. Most of the time I succeed in keeping my shit more or less together. Usually, I can just sit down and wait it out, since I’ve learned that rushing the Mimi only leads to unpleasantness. These storms lead to blue skies, most of the time, if you can just let them run their course. 

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Before the Diva entered my life, I’d spent years dealing with interns and freelancers, each of whom could test the patience of Mother Teresa. Still, the mornings can be tough, simply because the most stubborn Mimi always drops in before I’ve had coffee.

Nights can be tricky, too, because everyone is tired and resistance is low. Mimi knows this, of course. Like a grifter sensing an easy mark, she almost always strikes during dinner. Her formerly favorite foods are protested. She can go a few days where she eats nothing but toast with strawberry jam. And when you finally just offer the toast first, she shuns it, insisting instead on leftover macaroni and cheese or still-frozen peas or candy corn. We give in as little as possible, of course, just like the books tell you to do. Sometimes, though, I just want to call Drs Sears and Spock, hold the phone at arms length and let them hear the sobbing and recriminations.

As maddening as it can be, it is refreshing in a sick, sad sort of way that the Diva has such strong opinions, no matter how irritatingly she asserts them. Mimi’s not a baby anymore, not just a loaf-like infant content to simply be kept warm and dry. She sleeps in a “big-girl” bed. She wants to pick out her own diapers and pajamas and bedtime stories. Words are her tools now, and her toolbox is mighty full. I like talking to this small child when Mimi’s not around. She now has a rich imagination and will explain exactly what she’s thinking about. We can sing “Old MacDonald” and let her pick all of her animals and invent the noises for the tough ones, including the armadillo and the squirrel. But, lately, it’s like living with a Mafia Don. You’re at the table, just a couple of paisan sipping Chianti and smoking cigars, all grins and back-slaps, until you try to refuse an offer. Then the knives come out. Mimi is back on the ground, cursing you and everything you stand for. That temper is fast and mighty. I have no idea where she gets it (and my tongue is so firmly in my cheek right now it’s almost in my ear). I have no doubt that this, too, shall pass. 

The Diva has gotten wise to the whole Mimi moniker and loudly protests our calling her that when she’s winding up for a fit. “I not Mimi,” she’ll bellow, just as the waterworks start. “I’m a big girl!” Then she crumples like yesterday’s news, weak from the sheer injustice of it all. I know we are cruel to mock her, but some days that private laugh is all that keeps us from putting Mimi on eBay, simply to get her out of our hair.
About the Author:
Adrienne Martini has been a theatre technician, apprentice massage therapist, bookstore bookkeeper and pizza joint waitress. Eventually, someone started paying her for her words and an editorial mercenary was born. She has written theatre reviews and features for the Austin Chronicle, blurbs about tofurkey and bottled water for Cooking Light and a piece about knitting summer camp for Interweave Knits. She is a former editor for Knoxville, Tennessee's Metro Pulse and recently picked up an AAN award for feature writing. During the day, she fields freelance gigs and crams knowledge into the heads of college students in Upstate New York. At all hours, she is mom to Maddy, and wife to Scott. Email Adrienne at: shaken@austinmama.com


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