On Being Bad

I babysat Iris Wachs on Monday night. If you haven’t been keeping up with this stellar blog, first of all, fuck you; second, Iris Wachs is Rec Room co-owner Stephanie Wachs’s three-year-old daughter. (What a sentence!) She was also the subject of last week’s blog. Sorry to bombard you with toddler activity, but this little whipper-snapper is such a powerful force of nature (not unlike her mother) that two blogs seemed necessary.

So, Iris and I were blowing bubbles in the backyard. Actually, we were having an all out war on the bubbles. While other three-year-olds might like dancing around with beautiful bouncy balls of soap, Iris enjoyed stomping them into the ground while screaming. She would lift her hands up as they rose, usher them down gently, then attack, full force.

At first I was like, am I allowing violence in this child? Will she one day cut people to pieces and say it was all because her babysitter at three let her destroy bubbles? But I went along with it because she was having such unadulterated toddler fun, and soon I was too. We pounced around the yard, screaming our heads off, pissing off the neighbors.

If a bubble went unnoticed at first glance, either Iris or I would quickly find it. We’d bend over the thing, watch it resting peacefully and say to each other, ‘aww look at the pretty bubble!” Then she would scream and stamp it out. Her war cry, which I soon adopted, was ‘SEIZE THEM!’ It was hilariously out of context for her cherubic face.

“You know what Grace?” Iris said, mid-stomp. “We’re just pretending to be bad guys.”

Once she said that, I understood why we were popping bubbles and not dancing with them.

The world is scary right now, especially our country sized pocket. In Iris’s young life, and in my older one, our backyards have never been quite as vulnerable. Iris is not fully aware of this, but she does have the same instinct to be harsher. To be hard. To be punchy and angry and a ‘bad guy.’

Her bubble-brazenness did not, however, change who she was. Iris is a sensitive, loving, hilarious, good-hearted person. But right at this moment, she needed to pretend to be bad.

As a country, are protesting and yelling and punching Nazis. We are accessing a side of ourselves, especially as liberals (to be clear, I am a radical liberal which doesn’t necessarily reflect the views of Rec Room) that we haven’t before. We are being "bad." That doesn’t change what we stand for: peace and justice.

At Rec Room and other theaters across the nation, we are taking a stand against injustice. It’s not perfect. Sometimes we have to just make money. Sometimes we have to make statements that push patrons away. Sometimes we take our frustrations out on each other. Sometimes we have to be bad. But it doesn’t change who we are, we are a company of well meaning people who want to make art more accessible, and we will.

“It’s just pretend.” Iris said, putting her little hand on my arm. I had been quiet for too long. I looked down at her and realized that it was time to be affirming for my little bestie. To empower this small part of the next generation to access her powerful, bad side.

“Yeah, we’re just pretending.” I stomped a bubble. “It’s fun to be bad sometimes!”

Written by Grace Rosnenwinkel Cunyus