I came to pick up CR from daycare, which was literally only 3 doors down from my little hole in the projects. CR had this best friend named "Markie," a middle child who came from a family where he had two bothers: younger Joey and older Eric. Markie was "the good kid" in the sense he seemed quiet and shell-shocked half the time. Joey was an insufferable spoiled brat, and Eric was "the bad seed" from a previous marriage. Their mom was a skittish woman who looked a nervous Carly Simon.
I cant recall where Phyllis was, but Markie's mom was there, and asked if I minded watching her three boys and the little girl there who was waiting for her mom to show up. "I'll only be a minute," she said. That turned out to be half an hour.
Once Markie's mom was gone, the kids ran around this tiny apartment, giddy out of their gourds that some new clueless dad was in charge. Joey (about 3) demanded a brownie, but everyone told him the brownies were not for him, but for some event later on. Joey started to cry, and Eric said, "Can he have one, he's going to scream if he doesn't." I said the brownies were not mine to give, so no. Well, Joey started to scream.
I remember the little girl dramatically covered her ears in terror.
"See?" said Eric. "He always does that, and won't stop until he gets one."
I told him I'd wait and see. I told Joey we started an impromptu screaming contest, and he was losing because he wasn't loud enough. He screamed louder. The kids giggled. I said, "can you try it louder, but in a deeper voice, like raaaawwww...?" His brothers lost it. The little girl, confused, started going, "Raaawww!!" So I said she won, and I would give her a quarter. She was thrilled.
Joey was not. He screamed and screamed and I knelt in front of him and said, "You'll have to scream louder, I can't hear you over all this screaming." My son was hysterical. So Joey changed his tactic, ran into the kitchen, grabbed a brownie and started cramming it into his mouth with a "see?? Loser!" look on his face.
The little girl gasped, and repeated in a shocked voice that trailed off to a submissive protest, "Phyllis said those brownies are not for us..."
So I went up to Joey, chased him, forced open his mouth, and took the brownie out. I then tossed the goopy mass in the sink. Yeah, I didn't care. Parenting will do that, you'll even scoop up vomit with your hands.
His response was sheer stunned surprise. Like the gasp before a rich woman screams, "How DARE you!!!" Even his older brother went, "Oh my god..." Then, a few seconds later, when his emotions came back on line, he hit the floor and had a full-out, floor-beating, leg-kicking, screaming into the rug, tantrum. He wasn't upset, he was furious. Enraged, he screamed into the rug as high as he could wit the most ferocity his little body could muster. If he had been bombarded with gamma radiation he would have been the Hulk.
But I would have none of it. I did nothing. I just let him. But eventually I talked to him. "What are you doing on the floor?" I asked, as if I had NO idea and was somewhat mystified and entranced by the event. "I can't hear you scream when you do that... you're eating the CARPET, aren't you??" His brothers, my son, and the little girl were all laughing. "Does the carpet taste good? You all right? Normally you're standing when you're screaming, is this a new technique?" He screamed so loud, his face went red, and he started to cough and gag. He'd pause, swallow, and go back to his tantrum. "Let me know when you're done, but I still say this little girl here gets the quarter..."
His brothers kept going with the "he's sucking the CARPET" gag because little kids love to repeat a joke over and over. Finally, Joey calmed down, got up, and sat down. He looked devastated. He was spent like a cheap Chinese firework, he had NOTHING left in him. Shell shocked.
"No one ever said 'no' to him before," Eric whispered to me. "He doesn't know what to do."
Finally, his mom came back, and I told her what occurred. She nodded with a shallow and nervous humor. "Oh no... hahaha... oh my gosh, no way... oh no... hahaha." She acted as if I told her that her son spelled a glass of water on his pants or something.
"Can I have my quarter, now?" asked the girl.