My daughter's superpower is unleashed in the form of persuading anyone and everyone to give her free food. Food is her No. 1 mission in life, and like 007, she never misses her mark -- or chicken drumstick, for that matter.
It helps that she is roly-poly and adorable, but don't be fooled into thinking there is little more happening here than a set of cute dimpled cheeks and big gray eyes. This little girl, who just turned 2, is a salami sandwich-snatching savant. Her technique is masterful, and she has been perfecting it since she was old enough to roll over toward anyone chewing.
At my son's baseball and soccer games, she meticulously sized up each parent in the bleachers, assessing which were the easy targets and who would require a little persuasion. She'd walk up and down the line, hitting her core demographic, those freely handing out apple slices and rice cakes, first. After consuming the evidence, she'd move on to the harder sell.
She's never demanding. Her first food-acquiring strategy is just to stare. When that doesn't work, she impresses the withholder by using sign language to say, "Eat." And when that doesn't work, my daughter engages in the ultimate manipulation. She waits until someone drops a piece of food and quickly snatches it off the ground. Then, rather than pop it into her mouth, she dances around joyfully, holding out her gleaned pretzel stick or gummy bear for the entire gathering of parental cheerleaders to see. Then she screams "thank you!" over and over at the top of her lungs, pointing to the miserable penny-pinching parent who wouldn't even donate a pretzel to this adorable little-sister spectator. The unwilling food provider, impacted and shamed by the crowd awareness, takes away the dirty treat and hands her a handful of goodies as hush money. By the end of the season, all the parents are bringing extra snacks to games to feed my daughter along with their own children.
She is a master -- a ninja of manipulation.
That is why this Halloween was so disturbing for her.
Born on Mischief Night, a few hours before Halloween, you would think that the pumpkin spice holiday would be her favorite. Not to mention the fact that she practically takes the opportunity to trick-or-treat every day of the year. But therein lies the problem. She is not used to competition. And having to share the wealth of free treats with other adorable children seems to have rocked her perception of her standing in the world.
She picked up on the concept of trick-or-treating immediately. Nothing has been more in her wheelhouse. But the joy ended once she was handed her candy and was expected to leave. As far as my mini Cinderella was concerned, this transaction was not over. She would get more candy!
First my daughter would stare.
Then she would sign, "Eat."
The candy hander-outer would smile and say, "You already got your candy, sweetheart. We have to leave more for the other kids."
Those blasted other kids! The variable she hadn't considered. Why were there so many children out on the streets determined to ruin her night?!
She tried looking on the ground for dropped candy.
Door after door, she engaged in the same routine. One piece of candy was never enough. There was more! She wanted more! But one by one, she was turned down and told about the need for saving some for the other kids.
As the night went on, my birthday girl became more frustrated, until she saw the perfect opportunity. She stood at the wrought-iron gates, lined with fairy lights, guarding the entrance of a white-pillared mansion. This place was a game changer, so she changed her methodology. Dressed as a Disney princess, she hoisted up her dress in the front and tiptoed up the long walk. Once arriving at the grand staircase, she spun around like a ballerina. The adults cooed and handed her a piece of candy. But when they refused to give her more, she would not have it.
She kicked over the candy bowl, threw as many pieces as she could into her bag and ran.
So maybe less of a business mastermind and more of a common criminal. Either way, now I've got a lot of yummy candy, only some of which has been on the floor.
Katiedid Langrock is author of the book "Stop Farting in the Pyramids," available at http://www.creators.com/books/stop-farting-in-the-pyramids. Like Katiedid Langrock on Facebook, at http://www.facebook.com/katiedidhumor. To find out more about her and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.