I knew it was going to be an interesting day when Ellie woke up earlier than usual. And not only earlier, but cranky. And not just cranky. Crying, twitching, fussy, whining. It never fails that when she has a rough day, it happens to be on a day I feel particularly tired and worn out. However, I still had hope that I could turn that frown upside down. But when she barely took her morning bottle and whine-ily squirmed off my lap, my hopes started to fade.
We powered through breakfast and she ate like she had been stranded on an island for a few days. French toast, eggs, spinach, cereal, blueberries, and cantaloupe. She gobbled it all up. She was like the man-eating plant from Little Shop of Horrors. Maybe she was just hungry, I thought. But as soon as she finished her last bite, the fuss came back. She wanted to be held but she didn’t. She wanted to play but she didn’t. She couldn’t figure out what she wanted and neither could I. Finally, I decided to put her down for a morning nap. Putting her down used to be a fight, like a boxing match. It was like the final fight in Rocky IV and she was the Russian. I’d win, but not before taking a brutal beating. But since she’s been sleeping at night, there hasn’t been a lot of fighting lately. That’s why I was so surprised that as I was putting her down, she unexpectedly came out swinging.
I was standing and holding her while listening to the Rock A Bye Baby (Radiohead has been the favored one the past few weeks) lullabies when Ellie started twitching, flipping, crying, and with much force. Woah! This always calms her down. I was stunned, out of shape, and didn’t know what to do. I bounced, swayed, and hummed along, but nothing changed. It was time for the big guns. I went for the Beatles. I haven’t had to use them in a while. But it worked! In no time she was passed out. But before I put her in the crib I needed to be sure she was really out, otherwise it would be like starting over from scratch. I tickled her feet… Nothing. I jostled her around a little bit… Nothing. Her breathing turned to that heavy sleep breathing. I was golden to put her down in the crib. But as soon as I leaned forward, she woke up, kicked, twitched, flipped, and started crying. AAHHH! After repeating this two or three times, she finally went to sleep in her crib. I crawled out of her room bruised and closed the door. I was ready to take a nap myself.
After twenty minutes, she woke up… crying… not in a good mood. After a few hours of trying everything to make the kid happy, I was running out of options. I read to her, played, fed her snacks, watched TV, anything and everything I could think of, and nothing worked. And then as I watched her gnaw on her fingers and anything else she could get her mouth on, it occurred to me. RTF had returned. The Reverse Tooth Fairy. That dirty rat b*stard was back! I had made a deal with the RTF back in the fall to stay out of Ellie’s room at night. She did, but I think she found a loophole in our agreement and decided to come back during the day. With my options low, I had to figure something out. I was worn out and exhausted. I looked at the clock and it was only 2:00pm. I wasn’t going to be able to last, not like this. I didn’t think it’d come to this, but it was time. It was time for some emergency mallwalking. I wrestled her into the car seat, gathered our things and headed towards the Southland Mall.
She passed out after three minutes in the car, but I wanted her to have a good rest. The mission of this mallwalking was to keep her asleep. But when she woke up as we entered the mall, the mission changed. I found $1.25 cash that was burning a hole in my pocket. I decided that my new mission was going to be to spend that. And the only thing worth spending a $1.25 on would be food. It turns out my options were few. First, I headed to Mrs. Field’s Cookies thinking for sure $1.25 could get me at least one cookie. But the cheapest thing I could see on the menu was $1.99. Fail! Everything at the pretzel places were all at least two dollars. Cinnabon, Big Boy, Sbarro all had nothing in my price range. I figured I could get a just a small black coffee from the Bear Claw coffee place. I couldn’t even afford that! As I was criss-crossing the mall, Ellie was awake, quiet, but seemed confused. You and me both kid. I thought Mrs. Field’s would have been a sure thing, too. At least she’s calm, I thought, and I pressed on. And then I figured it out. Olga bread! Surely one piece of plain Olga bread would be less than $1.25. I rolled up to the counter, confidently ordered, and waited for my total… $1.58. A dollar fifty-eight!!! I had to charge it. Yes, I’m that guy. I charged a dollar fifty-eight.
Although I failed at both missions, I was able to find the Reverse Tooth Fairy’s kryptonite: Olga bread. Ellie loved it and didn’t give me any trouble for the rest of the afternoon. I won this round RTF, but I know you’re still out there lurking in the corners waiting to make your move. But know this, I’ve got my eye on you and next time, I will be ready with two dollars in my pocket.