Once upon a time, there lived a mother and a father who had three daughters…
“You are so mean to me!” Maggie screamed. “You always take Lizzie’s side! You never listen to me.” Tears welled in her eyes.
I stared at her flabbergasted. I played the last six seconds over in my head. Had I not witnessed Maggie take Lizzie’s arm and pull it behind her back? Had I not heard her say in the most sinister of tones, “I wish you were never born!”?
Of course I yelled at her. I yelled at what I saw. I did not see the interaction that led up to the almost broken arm and the appeal to the Moirai for the reversal of her sister’s fate?
But I was hearing about it now. “She put her laundry basket on my foot and she pushed me and then she called me a mean sister and stuck her tongue out and slapped me in the arm and said she didn’t want to share a room and I don’t want to share a room and I hate this house and it’s not fair Carson gets her own room and I have to share with HER.” At this import, she took her first breath. She was a mixture of tears and saliva, a true victim of middle-child injustice, showing her anguish and hate toward how difficult it is to live her life.
I blankly started at her while she ranted and raved. I did not move. After she took this very deep sigh, I did the unthinkable. I did what no mother should do. I laughed. It was not a chuckle or a chortle or a quick smirk. It was a belly holding, bent-over, I-cannot-breath-I have-tears-running-down-my-face laugh.
Her tirade seemed so obtuse and so blown out of proportion, I could not help myself. She stormed away and slammed the door to her room. Ooops. She realized Lizzie was in it (it is her room, too, after all). “Get out!” she screamed, even more angrier than she was before.
Lizzie walked out of her room and flipped on the television. Maggie’s mood was completely normal to her; she was not concerned.
I moved to the door and heard her mumble while banging drawers. “Oh it’s so funny!” Open- slam. “You make me live with her!” Kaboom. “I’m the only one who ever does anything around here and I am the only one who ever gets yelled at.” (The biggest most horrible lie, by the way. I am an equal opportunity chore-giver and an equal opportunity yeller.)
Listening to her rant, I was starting to feel a little frustrated. If this were me in 1980, I would have already been slapped. “I’ll give you something to cry about” was one of my father’s favorite phrases. He did not tolerate self-pity and anger. I decided to walk away and let her work it out of her system before I stormed in and the spirit of my father took over.
Five minutes later she walked out of her room. She had changed out of her school clothes. She was wearing her Hello Kitty leggings, a striped skirt, a long sleeve shirt, and an Indians jersey. She carried a fairly stuffed backpack and Teddy, her favorite stuffed animal.
“Well don’t you look sassy,” I complimented. I wanted to put the past twenty minutes behind us.
“Thank you,” she replied coldly. She walked over to the hall closet and got out her shoes and slipped them on. She then proceeded to pull out her winter coat. She had her eye on me the whole time; I was busy browning the meat for dinner.
She walked into the kitchen and stopped. She waited for me to acknowledge her presents.
“What’s up Sweetie?”
“Oh yeah? Where are you going?” I kept my tone light.
“I don’t know, but I don’t belong here.” Tears welled in her eyes again.
I turned the burner off and walked over to her. I sat in the kitchen chair so we were eye to eye. “Maggie, you belong here if you want to belong here. Daddy and I love you. I saw you hurting your sister so I addressed it. Did I not yell at Lizzie yesterday when she was trying to instigate an argument and get you in trouble?”
“Do I not yell at Carson when she gets that uppity, older-sister superiority tone in her voice?”
“Well, I love them and yell at them.” I hugged her. “We are a family. Family’s argue. You don’t just walk out and abandon your family because your mad.”
She squeezed super hard and rested her head on my shoulder. After a few minutes she pulled away and wiped her face.
“Are you still leaving?” I asked.
She shook her head “no” and smiled.
“Okay. That’s a good think. I’m making spaghetti for dinner and you know how much you like my meat sauce.”
She walked into the livingroom and put down her coat, kicked off her shoes, and dropped her bag and stuffed animal.
“Lizzie, you wanna play Winx with me?” Her voice was full of spunk and jubilation.
“Okay, Maggie, can I be Bloom?”
And once again, peace and harmony were restored to the home.