Six weeks ago I pitched (emailed) an idea to the good people (one person) at Real Mom Daily about the lack of female role models for my two year-old daughter to look up to. Sure, there are female superheroes, and badass women abound in the new Star Wars, but where is the female John McClaine?! Our daughters need a flawed heroine with real vulnerability that overcomes adversity through courage, smarts and resolve.

This is what I was going to write about, and I was going to demand answers.

“Where are these role models?”

“Why are the realest female role models all animated?”

“Puppets aren’t giving us much either.”

And then I would drop the proverbial hammer: “Elmo needs to take a long, hard look in the mirror.” I don’t care how popular that red sock is; you cannot blatantly tease a middle-aged illiterate man on PBS. Mr. Noodle is a sad man and needs help; namely, a grammar-school education. He doesn’t need constant ridicule by a puppet with no apparent gender.

I was going to write all of this, and then my little girl turned two. Now, I no longer care about role models or nuance or puppet bullying. Now my wife and I just want to get through the day.

Right on cue, a month before her second birthday, my daughter started punk’ing us. And for a solid month she has been playing my wife and me for a couple of punks. If you have had the displeasure of being in the same Trader Joe’s as us during the last 40 or so days, you may very well have referred to her as “that belligerent drunk.” And followed up with, “She’s punk’ing her dad.” And you would’ve been accurate.

People keep saying, “She’s testing boundaries.” That’s all anybody can say, “She’s testing boundaries, testing boundaries…” That’s a thing people say exclusively about toddlers and 13 year-olds. Giving them a pass because of their station in life, whether that is a rambunctious toddler or a rebellious pre-teen shoplifting at Claire’s. No one says that about a 30 year-old meth head that punches through your car window to take your iPhone charger. “All these guys on Skid Row…they’re just testing their boundaries.”

To be fair, our daughter has been successful because we have been acting like punks. The other day she grabbed my phone, walked to the bathroom and held it over the toilet, stared at me, and smiled. I immediately went into default punk-mode and started to beg and negotiate. I mean, she had taken my favorite thing in the world and was threatening to drop it into the toilet. But I stopped myself. I had had enough negotiating. It is the first step on a long, lonely road. So, instead of pleading for the phone, I put my foot down. She had kidnapped my favorite thing, so I grabbed her favorite thing in the world – our dog Dave – and proceeded to hold him over the toilet. It quickly became a weird stand-off where she casually but assertively dangled my phone, while I tried to hide the fact that I was actually giving Dave a belly rub. But the beautiful thing was, she flinched. She gave me the phone, and I immediately took a picture of her. It was the first real victory I had had in a month.

Here’s the thing: it is really hard not to give in, because all it takes is apple sauce. Works every time. And it is really hard to endure a hysterical fit in Target when you know a kid’s snack is all it would take. That doesn’t work anywhere else or with anyone else. A cop has never come up to your car, “You were going 90 in a school zone. Is that a fish stick? Go ahead…”

I’m kidding of course, but it is still true. Happened again the other night. Middle of the night she started crying for absolutely no reason. So we start going in there, taking turns giving her peace offerings (pacifiers). This usually works. Didn’t this time. She just kept screaming and throwing shit. Eventually we reached the tipping point, that moment when you stop playing the victim role and pull a “Bronx Tale”. My wife went in her room and proclaimed, “You’re not keeping us up. We’re keeping YOU up.” And we proceeded to jam “Journey” until the cops came.

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