Can I let you in on a little secret? Sssshh…. you can’t tell anyone. Mmmkay? They may judge me a little too harshly for speaking what has been unspoken for as long as humans have procreated more than one living offspring within their family unit. Though the subject of such secret hush hush is more pronounced in families with three or more offspring. We’re talking about that one super annoying child. The Pot Stirrer. We all have one, unless, of course, you have the perfect June Cleaver-in-charge family. And I certainly don’t. I’m as far from running a Cleaver household as it is from being renewed as the new hit tv show on primetime NBC.
I remember when I first found out I was pregnant with my third child, Bean. Everyone & their cousin’s mother’s twice-removed aunt wanted to share their stories of how great it was to have that extra playmate to help regulate the sharing between the older two, how loud with laughter their houses were filled with over the years, or the protection their older children exhibited over the youngest in various types of circumstances they got themselves into. There were cutsey stories about squabbles & skirmishes, tales of sibling rivalry coming into play with laughable outcomes, & comical replays of practical jokes gone awry. No one ever made mention of The Instigator in their tellings, there was no warning of any kind. In fact, after hearing all these fairy tales prior to Bean’s arrival, I naively believed that I was going to have this picture perfect trio of siblings that got along as well as the Brady Bunch kids, most of the time. Especially since the boys already shared a bond that’s comparable to the one uniquely shared between twins.
And then Bean arrived into this world. From day one, she drew attention directly onto her, like a magnet for prying eyes & nosy nitties. First, with the shoulder length cascade of wavy newborn hair that none of the seasoned nurses or even my OB-GYN, who had delivered me when I was born the very first year he was hired to run a practice through the hospital straight out of his residency, 26 years prior, had ever seen on a fresh from the womb baby before. Second, she was the tiniest full-term, perfectly healthy & fully developed baby on record at his practice, only weighing 4lbs 13oz after 37.6 weeks in the womb, accurately calculated to the nth degree by every test they could possibly perform- before & after her induced birth because they swore she couldn’t have been healthy, that there had to be something wrong. Her hair must’ve weighed at least the 13oz if you want a clear picture.
Bean has since grown into an average sized first grader, weighing in at 60lbs, standing 48.5 inches tall, but her personality has blown way out of proportion. And her inner magnet has kept up with her personality, not her physical growth. This child of mine, who thrives off the energy of others, is our family Pot Stirrer. Since she literally sucks the energy from those she’s surrounded by, she never lacks energy herself. This kid has no problems waking up at the buttcrack of dawn & outlasting any seasoned adult who doesn’t head to bed until after The Late, Late Show; typical of any Pot Stirrer, I’ve come to discover. They’re all like little mini-rock stars doped up on life & the reactions of the people in it, instead of cocaine & booze.
Also typical of every Pot Stirrer, & something Bean particularly excels at, is the ability to know everything & anything that’s going on within their territory. Not only know of, but remember every. single. ridiculous. detail of it all, word for ‘there’s no way in hell that I would EVER say that’ word. They can manipulate every situation they face cunningly by perfectly timed recalls of every sin you’ve ever committed that could justify whatever it is they’re trying to accomplish. Bean’s quick to remind you of that one time she was feeling left out when her baby sister was born & you said you’d always make time for her when she wants you to stop washing dishes & cooking dinner while simultaneously helping her older brothers with their homework, just to tie a dumb string of beads that cannot wait even a moment longer, in her 6 year old reasoning.
Nothing gets past the Pot Stirrer either. Forget about the little white lies of convenience that you once used with such graceful ease & practicality when the first three kids were toddlers. Bean makes sure to stop me dead in my tracks whenever I try to pull one out of my bag with Stinx. Heaven forbid you ever promised once upon a time ago to buy a sucker on the way home from running boring errands but assumed that you were home free, because, she ended up getting a free cookie from the nice lady working at the party store when it comes time to her wanting a piece of cake before dinner five months later. Again, in her demented Pot Stirring way of justifying everything, the defense makes absolutely perfect sense. Which leads me to…
The dramatics. Oh! How I do not love the dramatics of a Pot Stirrer. Everything is a life or death situation. Everything is loud. Everything is frantic & panicked. There’s an accompaniment of complimentary body language as boisterous & flashy as she is loud. Her self-confidence is enviable by even me, her own mother. I wish I had felt as secure in my own skin & as free to speak my mind when I was her age, as she does, because the girl rocks everything from her head to her toes & will tell you it herself. Even her charm comes with perfectly scripted poses that brain wash you into believing she’s totally harmless & innocently sweet. She mastered the puppy eyed look before she could even walk.
Did I mention loud already? The girl has a set of lungs on her that would make an Olympic Swimmer jealous. She’s not hasty about letting those girly lungs of hers wail whenever the opportunity strikes. Any slight rolling of the eyes from her two older brothers warrants ear-piercing shrieks that can send any dog running for cover, howling in pain. Pot Stirrers have mastered the art of hitting the exact frequency of hysterics needed to cause an immediate visceral reaction, setting in panic at full-throttle. This is a carefully calculated move just to get you to react to their squeals & squawks faster than with any of the other children. It doesn’t matter if they only misplaced the blue crayon among the piles of coloring pages littering the bed & they want it at the kitchen table for another drawing project, there’s gonna be a cry that accurately nails the bullseye of a nerve target in the brain. The resulting chemical reaction sets off signal receptors alerting that our offspring’s life possibly could be in danger, and you run to them, but only because you know they will jump off the deep end & die elaborately in their delusions during an exaggerated fit over the loss of that forsaken blue crayon.
With all of these black belt-level mastery of Pot Stirring skills packed under her belt from the day she was born, it’s no wonder that Bean was destined to be our family Pot Stirrer. This kid is always in the right place at the right time to take on every situation in it’s entirety then spin a tale of ostentatious proportion that make her out to be the hero, the victim, the saver of the universe, great solver of the world’s problems, or the unlucky, innocent bystander to devilish shenanigans that were out of her control before the pressure to join in overwhelmed her. No matter what role in the happenings she played, every thirty seconds excitedly, she always reports back to me on every happening, because she just can’t resist sharing the details. Even if it will not only get herself, but others, in trouble. There’s no loyalty to anyone when she’s under the pressure of the gun- she’ll sell out anyone to save herself from any fate undesirable to her liking.
The absolute worst part of all about having a Pot Stirrer residing on premises, is the fact that they cannot ever seem to mind their own business. They have no concept of privacy. Or personal space. They will get right on up you at any given moment, like a monkey to a tree, & push your boundaries as far as they can without implosion. It’s as if your unwelcoming body language & verbal pleas to back off, are an indecipherable foreign code that means nothing to them, it’s beyond their comprehension. Bean is capable of being the most emphatic & sensitive sweetheart she wants to be, full of genuine compassion, but just as easily, she can turn up the self-centered brat needing to cause a ruckus for her own personal gain. And I wouldn’t want her any other way. We’re an angrivated bunch in this family & Bean’s a very special piece of the whole we are together, bringing in a sparkling, glimmering beam of light into our souls. Her Pot Stirring ways can strike a chord that’s hard on the hearing, but the resounding laughter that reverberates throughout the house after her antics are said & done, leave this angrivated household ringing with the most sweet, melodious harmony I’ve ever heard.