After a hefty dose of Merrick, one of Stryker's friends told his mother this: "Merrick has a bad case of Third Child Syndrome."
The mother, being a woman and all, laughed and said "look who's talking" to him, as he was a third child himself.
But perhaps it takes one to know one?
Last night, the Matron was pondering why she was not looking forward to her upcoming whirlwind trip to visit her sister four hours away, in Marshall Minnesota. Could it be:
A) Marshall is 4 hours away.
B) The Matron is flying solo as John has to work.
C) Because of other commitments, the Matron is starting this 4 hour drive (alone) at 3:30 pm, arriving at the convenient hour of near bedtime.
D) The Matron is flying solo as John has to work.
E) After a single full day, the Matron will haul those children and all their junk back in the van to make that 4 hour drive again. Alone.
We all know how she feels about Transportation, generally.
Now, nearly everything about this adventure is perfect! Her generous sister put the penny on the hotel room! Her brother and nephews are flying in from New Jersey! All the cousins will be together. Lots to look forward to!
There is, of course, the thing about the Matronly practice of morphing into a toddler with a meth habit when around her mother, but that's another blog post. And not the problem (well, okay, not this problem).
The thing that has the Matron worried about the whirlwind trip is the Third Child Syndrome. Or, the child currently in its evil clutches: Merrick.
Surely, you've experienced this malady, but just in case you're uncertain, here's the official American Medical Association definition:
Third Child Syndrome: A chronic condition with psychological and physical manifestations. Afflicts only children who are third and youngest in their family. Physical presentations include whining, screaming, crying, dropping to the floor, flailing and in the most severe cases, hitting older siblings. Psychological presentations include the inability to process the word 'no' and the insistence that the third child get his or her own way at all times. While time may camouflage the symptoms, Third Child Syndrome will produce mean-spirited and selfish children who grow into similarly suited teenagers and even adults, should these symptoms remain unchecked. The only certain cure is firm parental hand and devotion to limits, consequences and the word No.
Last night, the Matron and her husband had a serious conversation, in which they acknowledged that Merrick was fighting a life and death battle against Third Child Syndrome. The Matron told her husband that the real reason she was unhappy about the trip was that not only would all the fun tasks surrounding Third Child Syndrome fall entirely into her shaking hands--things like saying "no ice cream till after dinner" fifty million times without one dent in the whine machine or ignoring 'butt-head' and the sly sibling arm punch because if she tended to those problems she would be doing NOTHING else -- but her whole family would be there to witness her utter failure in this department.
Did you just read this line? The one penned by the Matron?
"or ignoring 'butt-head' and the sly sibling arm punch because if she tended to these problems she would be doing NOTHING else"
So that's exactly what they committed to doing, last night. Tending. Time-outs, zero tolerance. Even if it meant forgoing the walk after dinner, letting the laundry pile and dishes stand.
Conveniently, Merrick had not one but two friends over today, setting up that time-tested triangle. Worse, one was a year older and a girl, setting her up to be the odd one out. And Merrick wanted her to do exactly what he desired, which was to leave him alone to play with the boy.
If you leave a child in the Matron's care, know this! It is her job to be that child's ally and protector! So she was, for hours, veering in to mediate conflicts, sending Merrick to his room, immediately Tending to every manifestation of the Third Child Syndrome. She did nearly nothing else. Should she even dare to pick up a gardening tool or attempt to cut an apple, Merrick would select that precise moment to reassert his dominion.
How bad was it? She eventually sent Merrick and the boy to the boy's house in order to give the poor females in the house (the child and the Matron) a break.
She has one more day of behavior modification and retraining before that child hits the road to spend time with Grandma Mary.
Should you be the praying sort, or a person with magical powers or mystical inclinations, please feel free to deploy your juju upon the Matron! If nothing else, wish her luck. Or recommend a cocktail?