What Would Pink Bear Do?

So there I was, contemplating good excuses for not having updated the Big Ugly Man Doll in way too long, when I was called away to Duty. And by Duty, I mean putting the kids to bed. 

Originally, SOBUMD and I decided, by which I mean she told me, that I should be the one to put them to bed since I didn’t see them most of the day, and this way I could have some bonding time with my lovely children, doting on them in much the same way that you’ll sometimes see a fat guy doting on a really good meal before he tucks into it or, in my case, tucks them into bed for the night. Now that they’re all older and mostly reading on their own, this doting generally involves ensuring the doffing of clothes, brushing of teeth, donning of PJs, hushing of cats, closing of closets, and finding of books, and ends with professions of love and admonitions not to read for too long and to sleep “tight,” whatever that means. (Luckily, they’ve never asked.) 

Tonight it included, as it so often does, researching the immortal question, “Why are you crying?” For the Reigning Queen of Pink was inconsolable to the point of being irritating, which while not exactly a huge feat still merits discussion. I finally got her to stop fussing long enough to whisper the trouble in my ear, “The Pink Bear.” 

Now I need to interject, because the remainder of the story requires knowledge of the evening, which involved Chinese food while watching GodSpell on DVD. All the kids have seen it several times, and they all wanted to see it again. They all sat through it and sang along – despite not finishing their lo mein.

Back to, where was I? Oh, of course, the Pink Bear. “What pink bear, hon?”   [Here let it be known that the accused stood and pointed across the room at her sister.] Ah, I should have known. The rest of the conversation went as follows:

BUMD:  Number One Daughter, what pink bear is she talking about?
Number One Daughter:  She gave it to me, and I told her she was going to cry later, but she said I could keep it.
BUMD:  RQP, did you give it to Number One Daughter?
RQP:  Yes but now I want it back.
BUMD:  Ah ha. OK, you really did give it to her, right?
RQP:  Yes I gave it to her but now I want it back now. [Those who rule by divine right don’t need to use a lot of commas.]
#1 Daughter:  She gave it to me.
BUMD, to RQP:  OK, why don’t you just lay down and I’ll tuck you in, and we’ll see what happens, OK?
RQP [suddenly cheerful]:  OK, goodnight Daddy!
[I walk over to #1 Daughter’s bed and lower my voice.]
BUMD: Where is this bear now?
#1 Daughter: It’s this jelly-bear thingy [here she points at 4 of them that she’s connected into a necklace/thingy]. She gave it to me, and I told her she was going to cry later, but she said I could keep it.
BUMD: Number One Daughter, if you knew that she was going to want it back, did she really ever give it to you?
#1 Daughter: [silence]
BUMD: Number One Daughter, you just watched GodSpell. What would Jesus tell you to do?
#1 Daughter:   [deafening silence]
BUMD: Number One Daughter, you must have known she’d want it back, because you told her she’d cry later. If you knew she was going to ask for it back, was it ever really yours?
#1 Daughter: She gave it to me.
BUMD: OK, you just watched the show, GodSpell. I think you know what Jesus would tell you to do in this situation. You’re a smart girl. Do the right thing. Good night!

And with that I left the room, after having laid a pretty heavy trip on a 10-yr-old who goes to church and CCD. I then, of course, waited outside the door to listen to what would unfold. 

I always have high expectations of number one daughter, but this was a tough test. Here you are, sharing a room with your 6-yr-old sister, and she’s crying because she wants her toy back. She gave it to you fair and square. Your (doting) father is giving you the WWJD business after you’ve just watched Victor Garber showing you Just WJWHD, and asking you existential questions about what it means to “own” something while you’re in the middle of reading about the American Indians (in school) and how they felt that no one “owned” the land. So I was very curious to see how this would play out.

Flying colors. I heard her get up, walk over to her sister, and present her with options ranging from #1 daughter buying her a similar toy with her own money, buying her a similar toy with RQP’s money, forgetting about the whole thing, and a few others. Not one of these involved giving her the toy back. 

She’s practical, and problem oriented. The way I see this, she knew that the problem was not “I have her toy” but rather “she’s crying.” Number One Daughter stuck to her guns, knowing that I hadn’t *ordered* her to give the toy back. (She would have, if I’d asked her to.) I told her to do the right thing, which she took as “Make the RQP happy so she stops crying.”   That the solutions didn’t make a lot of sense isn’t as important to me as the approach. 

Actions have consequences, and you can’t always hit undo. This is an important lesson when you’re 6, when you’re 10, and when you’re John McCain.  

I think she nailed it.  Thoughts?

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