It was a visit we’d all been eagerly awaiting for a very long time: my sister’s annual summertime trek from California to Vermont. I’d been talking to Wolfy about it for months, showing him pictures of my sister and even talking on Skype. He was so excited to see Auntie.
On the appointed day, he even went with my mother to meet my sister at the airport. Though he hadn’t seen her for almost a year, he ran to her outstretched arms and it was just like the movies. People in the airport wept because it was all just so beautiful. Then, like the true rock star aunt that she is, my sister presented two year old Wolfy with a brand new Percy train car. (Thank you, thank you, thank you, dear sister for not buying the talking version!)
The remainder of the week was pretty much an extension of the fairy tale. Auntie Mir-Mir would come over for dinner and Wolfy would do a special happy dance when he saw her. She did her best not to go insane reading The Little Blue Truck and Goodnight Goodnight Construction Site over and over and over and over again. The two of them even had a special song called, “The Money Bus Song”. I was not allowed to sing this song or learn the words. Everything was going awesome until Wolfy randomly turned on Auntie Mir-Mir.
We’ve tried to pinpoint the day or the moment that everything began to spiral downward.
Was it just after the day we spent at the lake? Did it happen during the family kickball game? Maybe it happened between the two times she took him to story hour. It was definitely before Mir-Mir and Wolfy’s solo trip to the museum, in which he screamed for most of the ride down, “I want Mommy!” until she almost gave up and drove him home. For a full week and a half, all Wolfy would say to my sister was, “Go away!” and attempt to push her from the room. A hug was out of the question. If we went out to eat, she was not allowed to sit next to him in the restaurant. She was not allowed to sing the alphabet song or sit in the backseat of the car. She was not allowed to read stories or play trucks. The only thing she was allowed to do was, “Go away!”
Honestly, I had no idea how to react to this behavior.
We tried ignoring it. We tried ignoring Wolfy altogether. We tried having her pay even more attention to him. We even had to put him in timeout a few times. Nothing worked. My sister was crushed. Her only nephew had turned against her in a cruel and unexplainable way. When she wasn’t around, I tried to ask him what was going on. Did he like Auntie Mir-Mir? Sometimes the answer was yes, sometimes it was no. Was there something Auntie Mir-Mir did that bothered him? No conclusive answers. And the meanness just continued. Sometimes I could tell that Wolfy was acting out in order to be funny or get attention and those times were actually relieving. But other times, he would scream, “Go away!” with such vengeance that I could tell he meant it. It was upsetting for me but it was absolutely devastating for my sister.
Then a few days before she left, the behavior disappeared as quickly and mysteriously as it had come. While we were all hanging out by the ocean, I stumbled upon the two of them quietly playing trucks and I slowly tiptoed away. “The Money Bus Song” was back. And on the last day of my sister’s visit, as I was taking Wolfy out of his car seat and told him, “Please be nice.”
“No way,” he replied, “I. Be. Mean.” Then an evil and extremely adorable grin spread across his face.
Had he been faking it this whole time? We will never know for sure. But I do know, when we dropped Auntie Mir-Mir off at the airport, he gave her a long, very close hug and a big wet kiss. And it was just like the movies.