Our corgi, Tazsy, used to stand on hind legs, her front paws clawing the sofa, breathing horse meat into our faces, until we shared our spaghetti with her. Now our son, Evan, wants our spaghetti, too. He crawls into our laps, insinuates his way into reaching distance of our plates. When we pull the plates away, he thinks we’re playing. He glides his sticky fingers across our plates. Instead of “please” or “thank you,” he says “shoe” or “yay,” comments which, in context, make no more sense than Tazsy’s yap. He takes what he wants, puts the rest back on our plates or hurls it on the floor, then, smiling, comes back for more. Tazsy used to whimper, truly apologetic, whenever she had an accident in the house. Evan wriggles like a wrestler while we try to change his diapers. He smears his own feces on his hands. He would fling it at us like a funny monkey if we let him. He squirms out of grasp, runs naked into the living room, and is not at all sorry.
The perfect parents at the library’s Peak-a-Book Babies group are always sure to point out that they have a perfect boy who listens to every story with hands perfectly folded and purrs like a kitten. He can say a hundred words — sometimes two in a row, and in the right contexts — and he uses his potty chair the way a cat uses its litter box. He is perfect. He will get all A’s in school, and he won’t let our son copy his answers. He will win the spelling bee. He will be the class president prom king quarterback. He will grow up and marry the woman who will have broken Evan’s heart. He will hire Evan just so he can fire him. We won’t be able to stop any of it. We won’t be able to protect our son from the perfect people who will be perfectly happy to run him over after he pumps gas into their perfect cars. May his first sentences be “That boy is a perfect ass” and “I hate him.” May he, at least, fling a diaper full of feces at the perfect boy, at the perfect parents.