Evie’s Footstool


[Note:  In this story, granddaughter Evie was 3½ and precocious; Mason was1½.]

Whenever Evie is at our house she keeps the footstool nearby, and regularly uses it to explore the foot-higher world, which allows an entirely different POV of the world, evidently.  So last night she’d been at it for a while and her dad said “OK, Evie, now put the stool back in the kitchen.”

One problem kids have is that they have their own little purpose-driven lives which they have to carry on amidst all the unreasonable expectations of their progenitors, who keep them in their clutches as long as they can.  So Evie had just been thinking how it would be interesting to frustrate her dear little brother Mason – Masey, we old fools call him – when her daddy made this demand about returning the footstool.

She immediately perceived where serendipity lay.  She waited until Masey, who mimics her constantly, stood on the stool.  Then she took it.  It achieved the therapeutic effect.  Watch his face as he slowly realizes that he has been screwed again by his sister, whom he trusts altogether in spite of her regular perfidies.  This is exactly what Evie finds so satisfying about her little betrayals.

I asked her dad why Masey was yowping, to which he injudiciously replied, “Oh, Evie pissed off the baby.”  Evie went back to her angelic persona with which she reliably deceives us.  She smiled, and said “I pissed off the baby.”  Even though we knew we shouldn’t, the people in the room who usually are shamming maturity all fell down laughing.  Evie looked at us skeptically.  “Idiots,” she thought.

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 But I also saw regret in Evie’s eyes, when she saw Mason in his bereft sobbing because of her betrayal of his infinite trust.  I know her.  She will depend more and more on Lincoln’s “better angels of our nature.”  Part of the reason this will happen is that she has been in that situation herself, and remembers:

I have taken her Lego man.  She says, “Give it back!  Stop teasing me!”  I know this is both a demand and a plea.  She knows she is being treated unfairly; but she also knows that, for the time being, she is powerless because all the “adults” in her life have control.  I give the little man back immediately, and apologize, and am a little ashamed.  She is not altogether powerless!

A few days earlier I had encouraged her to adopt her raging bull persona.  She frowns fiercely, growls, and sometimes charges me.  I said, “Evie, you’re a mean bull!”  She came over and snuggled against me, and said, “I’m not a mean person.”  I melted some more, if there was any melting left to do.  I saw that I had violated the self-image she’s cultivating.  She doesn’t want to think of herself that way.  This time I didn’t feel guilty, because I knew my motives were pure, but I apologized anyhow, and said I should have called her “fierce.”  She absorbed this, and seemed satisfied with it.

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