Remember the Star Wars scene when Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Princess Leia and Chewbacca were all trapped in the Death Star trash compactor and the walls were closing in on them? That impending doom device was reenacted in countless Saturday morning cartoons and as a child, it was my biggest nightmare. I thought (and still do) that the slowly-getting-crushed-between-two-walls scenario was (is) the worst way to go.
Meet Ella. Ella is 19 months old and about 25 pounds which makes her 10 months older and almost 10 pounds heavier than my little nine-month-old pipsqueak, Mazzy. Yesterday, we went over Ella's house to play. Ella is adorable but she has a mom-acknowledged toy-sharing problem. This meant every time Mazzy would start to play with a toy, Ella would stumble over as fast as possible to reclaim it for herself. Mazzy, too young to understand this affront and too excited to be in a room with a slew of toys she has never seen before, always seemed more than content to move onto something new. But as most of us know, the surest way to piss off your enemy is to not notice their attempts to defeat you. Suffice it to say, Ella did not care for Mazzy's laid-back attitude. Twice Ella hit her to retaliate, but I can accept a small amount of childhood aggression as relatively par for the course as far as play dates go.
Ella walked over to the other side of the couch towards the kitchen counter and Mazzy crawled around to follow her. Two seconds pass and then all of a sudden we hear Mazzy shrieking like she was trying out for the Jennifer Love Hewitt role in the baby version of I Know What You Did Last Summer. I ran over to see what was happening and saw Death Star Trash Compactor 2010— Ella was pinning Mazzy up against the back of the couch with a metal kitchen stool, the foot rest pressing against Mazzy's side as Ella continued to squash her further and further into the back of the couch. Mazzy was cowering in this forced half crawl/half standing position and the look of fear on her face was heartbreaking.
I rushed to her aide as Ella released her grip on the stool and looked up at me with wide eyes, blinking innocently. But it was too late. As cute and well-behaved as she is 95% of the time, in that moment, Ella was Darth Vader, the Penguin, Dr. Claw, and Gargamel all rolled into one. She was bigger, badder and armed with a motive that wasn't entirely clear. She stuck her tummy out in a way that said— it's survival of the fittest out here in Babyland and if your baby wants to hang with the big kids, she needs to grow a few inches and couple that with a workout plan.
One more blow to the head with a cell phone and we all decided to go to the park where nobody owns anything. Once there, the two of them played together very nicely. Translation: Mazzy slept in the Ergo Carrier, while Ella hit other children who attempted to use the slide.
Now, I don't want to bash Ella, even if her recent aggressive tendencies are damaging her cuteness quotient. What I'm wondering from any parents with more experience is— is this a phase that we should expect all our babies to go through? Is Mazzy gonna lash out the second she meets another baby half her size? And if so, how do you attempt to tame their behavior or at least arrange for a friendlier play date?
As for Ella—I love you even if you are lying in your crib plotting ways to hurt my child. One day you and Mazzy will be the best of friends, right? RIGHT?