My daughter, Monae, has Oppositional Disorder, which I think would more appropriately be called Oppositional Ordering Everybody Around, and has proven herself belligerently averse to some of life’s niceties, like depositing her poo and pee in the potty rather than the floor or chair or bed.
This toxic trend is further complicated by her misfortune of having hooked up with a gay male dad who is obviously a slow learner.
I knew nothing about little girls, nor did I want to change that status, when the State of Connecticut invited me to kennel Monae at age five.
My active disinterest in any form of intimacy with girls, of whatever size, may be why Monae’s Social Worker picked me out of her line up. Knowing Monae is not the least bit shy about imperiously demanding immediate satisfaction of her always urgent whimsy, the State’s wisdom correctly predicted that Monae was not at risk of any lascivious acquiescent response to any post-puberty preferences that might come her full-bodied way.
Oh, wait, I once again give the Social Worker too much credit, there was no line waiting for Monae because she has Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and everyone else shopping for Monaes to decorate their lives, homes, and families knew that this girl child might be pooing and peeing wherever and whenever she pleased for as long as it pleased her to do so.
There was nobody in front of me or beside me, waiting to catch Monae’s mess, although there were three or four foster parents behind me who were jumping out of their worn-out skins to help me get Monae into my home as quickly as possible so they wouldn’t have to smell her, and feed her, and listen to her endless litany of urgent demands, and the kangaroo jumping in the middle of the night, ever again.
No one, or even two, foster homes could stand living with her, I found out too late, so she was a foster home circuit rider, rotating her weekly infestations.
However, Monae, now a teenager would proudly. and inevitably too loudly, announce to her friends, if she had any, that she has been my girl for nearly a decade now. She would not be troubled by any full disclosure compunction to mention that our home has by no means been the same house all these years. When she fills one up we either have to give up breathing or move somewhere else.
Monae is a hoarder. It started with food. She specialized in spilling milk under the bed for awhile. Perhaps she was confused about that expression about spilling milk and crying parents, but it took off and generalized to shredding newspapers and books, the larger the better, sprinkling cooked rice and noodles on the rug, then mashing them in with her bare feet, throwing Tinker Toys and Lincoln Logs and paint brushes wall to wall, then opening jars of acrylic paint, emptying them onto the brushes because, after all, why else would they be called paint brushes if they were not meant to be painted. and how else would one get that paint out of the jar without getting your hands totally icky, except she tried that first, thinking finger painting would be the way to go, but she didn’t like the way the paint tasted or looked on her formerly pink poodle skirt costume, although it was kinda good on the saddle shoes, which she wasn’t wearing, because she refuses to wear shoes or socks in the house, or car, so she had to find them in the piles of stuff that she found where it clearly didn’t belong, in her closets and drawers, then put them on to paint them so they would still go with the poodle skirt which was now a more festive pink and mahogany, or maybe burgundy, probably all three.
Ivy and I have been discussing politics.
I was advocating more restraint in response to her frequent excavations in my closets, looking for more resources for her scrap piles and garbage dumps she is growing quite abundantly in her bedroom. And, I was protesting her nightly raids into our refrigerator and cupboards to add more fuel to her private stores, and her lack of clearly defined policies to clean up her own mess, and her annoying addiction to turning on any electronic device of any kind, turning up all volume levels to full blast, including blood-curdling screams and howls and stinky air-polluting farts far louder than those of any other nation, or person, and her obsession with flipping on all lights of any kind, interior and exterior, never mind that its noon, and her addiction to driving to anything retail, with market trend histories favoring toy stores and any outlet that could produce anything resembling food faster than she could swallow it, requiring as little chewing activity as possible, because chewing burns calories and her short-term economic strategy is to absorb and hoard with as little loss and sharing as possible.
I asked her why she thought these behaviors should be acceptable to other members of our diverse family. She said she learned them at her school.
“Oh, right, in your U.S. History class.”
“No, I don’t listen in that class; in capitalism class.”
“You mean writing class.”
‘No capital is what everything starts with until you get to the end of a period. Then you have to start over again with more capital that you try to find in other peoples’ closets.”
“Maybe you’ve combined your writing class with U.S. history. You’re treating our home like foreign territory to be sucked into your personal magic queen-bee nest.”
“No, Dad, I learned that from you.”