Sunday, January 07, 2007

Lesson #864

We drove a couple of hours yesterday to spend an afternoon with Gwen's sister, her husband and their 2-year-old daughter - a long-overdue visit and delayed Christmas gift exchange. As she typically does, when she knows she is going to see her sister, Gwen took the time to fill a plastic tub with some clothes that no longer fit our girls, bagged up some toys that had fallen out of favor or relevance, and also - for the first time - some books.

No issue with the clothes or toys, but the idea of BOOKS leaving our house apparently got to Madison. I came home from work late on Friday - trying to get things in order in advance of the Aruba trip - and by the time I walked in the door I heard some kind of out-of-the-ordinary bickering coming from the second floor. Gwen came down the stairs shaking her head and reporting that Madison had wandered into our closet, found the bagged-up books, and immediately started melting down over them.

By the time I got upstairs Madison was in full waterworks, clutching an Elmo book I honestly didn't know we had as if it contained the secrets to life itself, looking over the 20 or so that were filed away in the bag, and gasping through the tears that "Mommy... is going to give... these... away! She's giving these books away, Daddy, and some are Ava's favorites... (Hasn't even announced her plans to run for public office yet, and Madison already recognizes the importance of building broad-based coalitions!)... Daddy... don't let Mommy give our books away!" Madison doesn't cry real tears very often, so the scene was fairly jarring.

I calmed her down, put her back in her bed - placed the suddenly-prized Elmo book on the table in her room and, for the moment, the crisis was averted. I have to say, to Gwen's very good and real point, the books that had been designated for reassignment had not been looked at or thought of in probably a year or more. Madison is reading now, Ava has always preferred television over the written word, and there was just no reason not to pass them along to an age-appropriate child who might actually open them.

The next morning we were about to leave for the visit, Gwen and I had a brief moment upstairs and she said, "So what should we do about these books? Should we bring them? Should we just forget it?" Neither one of us wanted a repeat of Madison's hysterics from the night before, nor did we want to allow her unreasonable position to carry the day.

I said this: "Here's what I think we should do. We should take the bag downstairs and make it Madison's issue. Explain again that we want to bring these books - which we don't read anymore - to her cousin so she can enjoy them. We think this is nice, we think she'd appreciate this, but it's your decision. We are not giving the books away, Madison, unless it's something you want to do."

Gwen carried the bag downstairs, and by the time I got down there they'd already had the conversation. Based on Madison's sullen look I had a sense how it had gone but Gwen filled me in, Madison and Ava standing by. "Well, we're not bringing the books. I want to bring them, Ava wants to bring them, but Madison doesn't want to give them away, so we're not bringing them." I gave a little "is this true?" look to Madison, who was clearly less than comfortable with her decision, but again began talking about specific books in the collection and how much she liked them and, notably, how much AVA liked them...

"OK," I said, "Let's go, let's get in the car." We all walked out, the bag of books left sitting up on the kitchen countertop. As we bundled the girls into their booster seats, I realized I'd forgotten our digital camera and went back into the house to get it. The issue of the books was still weighing on my mind, I knew that at the end of this long drive Madison would ultimately want to give them to her cousin, even if she didn't see that herself at this exact moment.

I got the camera, and as I was standing outside locking the back door, Gwen came walking up behind me, "Madison changed her mind, she wants to bring the books." I pointed to my feet, and she was surprised to see the bag of books resting there on the ground.

"That's good," I said. "Because she was about to learn the lesson of majority rule."


Blogger Sugee Andersyn said...

LOL I enjoyed that :)

2:41 AM  

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