This week, our daughter Adinah is experimenting with two things: afro-puffs and temper tantrums. This has set off all sorts of red alerts here, because according to many of our most highly paid experts, taking care of your kid's hair is job number one for adoptive parents. And any idiot knows that tantrums, and how you deal with `em, are what separate the superdads from the amateurs.
I don't know much about afro-puffs except that the Lady of Rage rocked them and this Angry Black Bitch once posted something very funny and sweet about `em. But once we decided to try it, my wife set to work on Adinah's hair, and suddenly she wasn't just a beautiful four-year-old Ethiopian kid, she was a beautiful little girl. It was amazing how much more feminine she became with a hair-do. (The lesson I learned: humans who make an effort with their hair=females; humans who don't bother=males.)
Naturally, the tantrums are a lot less fun. Anette and I are at a complete loss as to what they mean and where they come from, but we're certain we're not to blame. (I almost always check to make sure Adinah is in another room whenever I can't figure out something mechanical [like a paper clip] and need to yell "F*ck!" and then throw it.) It must be something she's learning from other kids at Kindergarten. All I know is, sometimes, our little princess just...loses it. The other day, she asked me to draw a picture of a pink cat for her, so I drew a pink cat with whiskers and a cartoon balloon that said "Hi, Adinah!" and I left it on her desk. She got home from school, took one look at it and started bawling. I had drawn the cat All Wrong, Papa!!
Her hair and her hissy-fits got together to try to kick my ass on Tuesday. When I got to Kindergarten to pick her up, one of the Tante (aunties) at kindergarten had tied a long braid of colored beads around one of Adinah's afro-puffs. It was a pretty cool addition, and gave 'Deanie an Adam Ant sort of look. But two hours later, when I suggested that we might need to take the braid out when Adinah took a bath, mama mia, she let me have it. Much wailing and gnashing of teeth. Screaming, crying, whining, quieting down, then more screaming. I tried everything: taking a deep breath, walking away, reasoning with her. More screaming, more crying. Then she fell asleep.
When she woke up, she screamed and cried some more. Finally, I said to her, for the third or fourth time, "Deanie, you have to try to tell me what's wrong, and then we can try to do something about it."
"I wanna show it Mommy!"
"Show what to Mommy?"
And that was it. An hour later, when Anette got home, Adinah was back in operational mode again--eating, chatting and telling me about her day. We showed her braid to Mommy, then Mommy very gently untied it, and I got the kid into the bathtub.
I told Deanie it was really great that she had been able to tell me what was wrong because then we were able to take care of the problem instead of just fighting. But I was actually proud of both of us.