Hanley turned four years old yesterday. She may be four now, but she has the attitude and manipulation skills of most tween girls. She treats Lloyd, the 80 lb. family pit bull, like a brother. In other words, she’s always telling on him. “Dad, Lloyd stepped on my foot!” “Mom, Lloyd bumped into me!” “Timothy, Lloyd’s breathing on me!” I’ve heard she tells on me, too. Not surprising, since I’m always forcing her to do awful things like be polite, behave in public, and eat her dinner. Oh, the humanity!
She long ago mastered the art of parental/nanny manipulation. Getting parental permission to do what the nanny said you can’t do is so three years old! Now she’s moved on to manipulating strangers. Last week we stopped in Starbucks–she may be on her way to ruling the world, but H still calls it “Starbugs” and we still don’t correct her–so I could grab a tall skinny mocha before we went back to Hanley Inc. There were two boxes of sugar cookies on the counter, as someone had obviously been working on a Christmas display. While we waited for the Starbucks employee to finish someone else’s order, The Big H eyed the boxes of cookies, pointed to them, then looked sweetly at me and said, “Uncle Timothy, what are those?”
“You know perfectly well what those are. You tell me.”
“Are they cookies?”
“Yes, they are. Before you ask, no, you may not have one. We’re going home and I’m going to make your dinner. You don’t need cookies before dinner.”
“Oh, man,” Hanley said, sounding just like Swiper the Fox.
Then the Starbucks employee took my order, but, before she could make my mocha, Hanley looked sweetly at her and asked, “What’s your name?”
“Janella*,” the Starbucks employee said.
“Hi, Janella,” Hanley said. “I’m Hanley. What are those?”
Hanley was pointing at the cookies. I couldn’t believe what was unfolding before my very eyes.
“Those are cookies,” Janella said. “Would you like one?”
Now I was in shock. Not only was Hanley manipulating Janella, but Janella was offering somebody else’s child cookies without asking the accompanying adult if it was okay. Plus, if I intervened at that point, I’d be Mean Uncle Tim not letting Hanley have a cookie. I didn’t think Hanley would throw a tantrum if I put my foot down, because she rarely does with me, but it didn’t seem worth it. It was just a stupid sugar cookie. I was more annoyed with Janella the employee for putting me in that position. I almost said something, but Janella was a young twenty-something who probably didn’t know any better. Plus, Janella was just pwned by a four year old. Janella had bigger problems.
Janella handed Hanley a cookie and then began crafting my mocha. Hanley bit into her cookie and said, “Mmmmm,” while looking directly at me.
“Well played, Miss Hanley,” I said. “Well played, indeed.”
*Name changed to protect the dunderhead.