Monday, February 14, 2011

In The Lions Den

Leighna and Livi,
also known as
Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum

I have noticed the last few years that most little girls being born are unusually strong-willed. Like... Iron Wills. Like... Unbeatable. Like... Power Houses. Like... Back Off Or Die. Like... Girl-Style Captain Moroni's (just imagine those powers of hell -- shaken forever). And I think there is a very, very specific reason for that. Something about saving the world one strong WomanMotherWarrior at a time or something like that.

My own child named Olivia the Lioness gave me a powerful example last night. Mostly because as her Mommy, it is my responsibility to see that she uses these powers for Good, not Evil. And some days I think I have my hands full. Which is a delight. 'Cause I can just see that woman inside of her, and she's going to be something Amazing.

First you should know that somehow -- and I'm not exactly sure how -- Olivia was born with a real flair for the dramatic. I take no responsibility for this. I don't know how it happened. The only thing I can think is that she was named for Shakespeare's Olivia from "Twelfth Night" -- a strong, difficult, passionate, deeply loyal and beautiful woman -- and I think that's how she became the emotional freight train that she is. That has to be it. It couldn't be that I myself have any tendency towards the dramatic, emotional, or stubborn. I mean, that's just not me at all.

You should also know that with this emotional lean comes a certain tendency to be... shall we say... difficult. Happy one minute and then deeply -- deeply -- troubled and unhappy the next. It's very special. Sounds a little female, doesn't it.

We get exasperated but it cracks us up, too.

The person who really has to deal with all of this is Olivia's best friend and cousin, the ever affable, kind, fun-loving, mischievous Leighna. Now, Leighna is, of course, part of the Lioness Club being sent to this earth. I've seen that Iron Will in action. But she loves to have fun. And she's just so patient with her emotional wreck of a best friend.

Last night Liv had finally pushed Leighn too far with that most hurtful of all phrases "I don't want to play with you."
Since it was Sunday night, all the cousins were at Grandma and Grandpa's house sharing dessert. The Double B and I were playing the game Hand and Foot (the game that will surely be played in the Double B's heaven) with T-Bomb (also known as Leighna's Mommy) and Grandpa. After Leighna was completely destroyed by those hurtful words, she went in to be comforted by Grandma. The problem is, Livi has been pulling this kind of naughtiness a lot lately, so something serious had to go down. Daddy got up to handle the situation, so I knew it was going to be interesting. Not wrong at all -- just interesting. Daddy's have a very important role in this whole parenting adventure, as we all know and appreciate. I could hear a stern lecture and then Olivia start to cry as Daddy pulled her into the room to apologize and make amends. "Say you're sorry and give her a hug or I'll spank you!" (hehe -- it sounds sort of funny. I didn't laugh, though. I backed up my man.) Olivia was likewise traumatized that her hero and the love of her life -- Daddy -- had turned against her this way. Usually he saves this kind of fire storm for brother, and here it was, directed at her, the innocent and lovely P1! Leighna sat kindly waiting for her apology. Now, this must be said of Leighna: usually kids are thrilled to have the guilty party punished, but that's not the case with our Leighn. She's got a great big heart, and she wasn't any happier that Livi was in trouble then Livi was. She just wanted her best friend back.

Olivia was clamped right up and Daddy was getting angrier -- the spanking and nuclear fallout were at zero hour -- so I jumped up to help mediate. I got down with Olivia and explained what saying your sorry means. That you get the chance to make something you did wrong better. And that I knew Leighna would promptly forgive her and they could be friends again, so she needed to do the right thing and take care of this problem the right way.
I mean -- that sounded good, man!
I told Olivia she must give Leighna a hug and apologize, because that is being kind, and we are kind at our house. Big elephant tears and snot were still pouring down her face, she's still got her fists balled on her cheeks, and she's still paralyzed. Knowing that trouble, serious trouble was on the horizon, Leighna decided to try to help out by trying to pull Olivia's arm around her. You could see her thought process: "Come on, buddy! Just do what your Mom says! Don't make this happen to us!" It was so adorable, I had a hard time not busting up. Still Liv would not budge. Then we tried talking about how Jesus made it so we could repent and makes things better, and made it so we could say we were sorry, and we needed to be like Jesus. That's pulling out the big guns, man. I could see Olivia starting to waver. Then Daddy threw in for good measure "Say your sorry or I'll spank you!" Leighna started to get really nervous at this point. She reached out and put her hand on Olivia's cheeks, trying to help her squeeze out "I'm sorry."
Still Olivia stood there curled up like a rock.
I'm thinking in my head "Don't make me do it, man!"
But at some point, this behavior has to stop, and that's all there is to it. Plus, the Double B and I have a very firm belief that children need -- and love, actually -- to have limits and they need us to help enforce those limits. So really, I couldn't back down.
I told her she had ten more seconds to make things right. It went a little like this, me counting and holding her sides, Leighna tugging on her hand in encouragement, and Daddy looming over Mommy breathing a little like Darth Vader and promising corporeal punishment:
"1...2... you need to say you're sorry, Olivia... 3...4... come on, honey, you need to do what's right...5...6... please, Olivia, I don't want you to have to sit on the couch for the rest of the night...7... please don't make Daddy spank you, honey, he really will... 8... just say you're sorry, I know Leighna will forgive you...9 ---" And at that celestial moment, Livi reached out her arms, wrapped them tight around Leighna, they laid their heads on each others shoulders, and she whispered "sorry." Then another hug, wrapped tight around each other for good measure. Then big hugs of repentance and forgiveness with Mommy.
Daddy sat back down.
The Cold War was over.
Russia was disarmed.
And Livi and Leighna ran back into the toy room.
These little girls are amazing.

I sat back down at the table, practically wiping sweat from my forehead. I really think my blood pressure had raised during the confrontation. And then my Dad said oh-so-sweetly "Reminds me of somebody else I used to know."

And that was our night. How was yours?

I hope you have a wonderful day and get a hug o love from your sweetie, your kids, your co-worker, your mother, your friend, or yourself. 'Cause V-Day is really about all kinds of love, isn't it.

(You may be interested to note that tiny Kate's name brings to mind "The Taming of the Shrew." Another strong, difficult, passionate, deeply loyal and beautiful woman. I am sensing a theme here. Can't wait for that!)


Elise said...

Weird. Your parenting style is EXACTLY like ours. (i.e. I spend the entire time trying not to laugh at my husband or kids) :)

It does seem like little girls nowadays are especially strong of spirit, doesn't it? Mine are, anyway. Bull-headed little things. I love it. And I loathe it.

Tamari said...

Little girls...very special and awesome indeed. :)

Ducksoup said...

you are the best story teller on the planet. i cannot believe the detail you are able to remember. cause you see, my memory stinks and i would have to record the entire situation to remember things like you remember them a day later. loved the story :). glad she obliged at the number 9.

kip said...

your children are beautiful. Kate is so big. will you please follow my blog too luv ya Karen