When I was 5, I decided to take matters into my own hands.
For several years now I had seen my mom take these cute little pills in this cute round plastic container. She took one every night, without fail. That round little plastic circle was way too much like a pez dispenser to be ignored. Was it candy? I had to find out.
"Mommy? What are those pills in that round thingie?"
"Oh, those are Mommy's special pills. They keep me from having a baby."
*cagily* "Sooo, if you didn't take those pills you'd have a baby?"
"That's right, if it wasn't for those little pills, you'd have a little brother or sister! That's why I have to take one every single night."
*Pops sibling-preventing pill into her mouth and swallows it down. Beams brightly at her depressed only child.*
So now that I knew the how, it was up to me to pave the way for my brother-or-sister-to-be. Timing was everything.
Then next day I waited until she went to the bathroom, which was generally when I pulled most of my hijinx. After I heard the door close, I quickly ran to the kitchen and shoved the flat container underneath our 500 pound Amana Radar Range:
It was a big deal to have one of these in 1974. My dad had a friend who owned an Amana dealership and he got it for my mom that Christmas. The dial at the top measured the time in seconds, up to one minute. The bottom dial measured the time in 5 minute incriments, up to an hour. For the two months following that Christmas, my dad went out and bought pounds of bacon and invited all of the men in the trailer court over to watch it cook in the Radar Range. Then they would all stand around and talk about how fast it cooked things, while they ate the bacon.
That night, I heard my mom moving things around on the kitchen counter, her movements becoming more frantic with time. I stared stonily at the t.v., my mind made up. I would not cave. Johnny and/or Annette were counting on me.
The next day.....
"Sweetie? Have you seen my pills?"
Silence. It was the best weapon, as nothing could be used against me.
"Honey? Did you hear me? Where are my pills?"
Slowly, I turned my eyes from the t.v. and looked at her. "Um, I don't know?"
Her eyes narrowed as she came to the realization that her 5-year-old daughter was trying to take charge of her reproductive cycle. Her incredibly stubborn and lonely 5-year-old daughter.
"You little shit! You give me back my pills right this instant!"
"Um...no. I threw them away and now you'll have a baby and then I can blame it when all the sugar cookies go missing from the Christmas tree. You'll never know who peed in the sink and it can sleep in my closet. When it gets older we're going to gang up on you and Daddy so you'll have to buy us a house. The kind without wheels."
She made a kind of choking noise when I told her I'd thrown the pills away, and she quickly checked the garbage. She found no pills and called my bluff.
"If you don't give me back my pills RIGHT NOW I'm going to spank your butt!"
I rolled my eyes.
"I'll...I'll...I'll ground you from your toys!"
I sighed and inspected my nails.
She could see that threats would not sway me. This was war, and she would have to change her plan of attack. Her eyes narrowed and her mouth worked as she tried to figure out what might cause me put her refusal to have another child ahead of my determination to have a sibling.
She stared at me. Hard. I stared back at her coolly from across the Harvest Gold and Avacado Green living room.
"Come here sweetie."
I narrowed my eyes at this trick, Clint Eastwood style.
She motioned once again with her outstretched arms, I slowly walked towards her, my eyes darting everywhere for signs of an ambush. Once I traveled the 13 steps from the livingroom to the kitchen table, she sighed once, and then again. She shook her head regretfully and made full eye contact with me. I thought I saw an unshed tear glinting in the kitchen lighting, but she'd tricked me before, so I wasn't buying it.
"Honey, Mommy can't have anymore babies. The doctor said if I had anymore babies I'd die."
I sneered at her pathetic attempt to play upon my 5 year-old sensibilities. I was the one who had made Artie-Fartie my Kindergarten Bitch. She had no idea what she was up against.
She nodded regretfully. But I was always a suspicious child.
"Then why didn't you get fixed like Kitty-Kat? And why do I sometimes hear you telling Daddy, 'You know, I'm not getting any younger so if we want to have another kid, we'd better get on it'? And why do you and Daddy sometimes look at me and shake your heads and say, "Next time....next time we'll get it right'?"
Seriously? While I doubted her story, I also realized that if she died, I would spend the next 13 years eating nothing but the floppy bacon and overly-soft scrambled eggs that were the only foods my dad knew how to make in the Amana Radar Range. I took no chances.
I quickly fished the pills out from under the radar range and handed them to her. They must have been magical pills because she immediately sat up, popped one in her mouth and got that no-consequences-nookie look in her eyes.
I had been tricked.
Well played, Suzanne.
Well played indeed.