It appears from your responses that there are still some doubters among you. So I shall continue on my quest for truth and clarity.
Setting the Record Straight (Part 2): Parenting Skills
Watching Bia with her children, you cannot help but be impressed by her parenting skills. She leads them through life with wisdom and common sense. I am constantly impressed by her childrearing philosophies. But yesterday, it struck me. Of course she does a good job imparting wisdom and good qualities to her children! Because she practiced on her little sister and brother! As the oldest one, the wisest one, the Big Sister, she was “the boss” as we grew up. And she had tons of practice. To support my theory, I provide you with the anecdotes below, organized by Life Skills:
GENEROSITY: Since we grew up during the Dark Ages, as my oldest son claims, Bia and I had relatively few toys. What toys we did have were precious to us. Despite our attachment to every item in our rooms, Bia started a tradition between the two of us: Gift Boxes. Every few months we would each take a shoe box, fill it with gift items from our own treasured collections of items, and exchange them! Opening those boxes was like Christmas in July! And while each of us gave up several items that we treasured, we also received some in return.
IMAGINATION: Again, living in the Dark Ages, our television time was limited to “The Waltons” and “Little House on the Prairie.” Bia used her imagination to invent elaborate stories which David (our brother) and I were forced to enact. Instructions for such events from Bia were similar to the following: “Laura, you will be Laura Ingalls and I, of course, will be Mary. But I’m not blind yet. And you don’t have Almanzo yet because he is actually in love with me at the moment. David, you will be Pa. Stop whining; Pa never whines, not even in blizzards with no food. We have babies, but they are not ours – we’re just babysitting. We have to make it to town, but we are intercepted by Nellie Olson. Mom can be Nellie. OK, she’s busy, but we can pretend she is here. Evil Nellie kidnaps the babies and hides them in a remote barn. While we are searching for the babies, a blizzard crops up, and we have to tie ropes from tree to tree so as not to perish in the wilderness…” (etc.). You get the picture?
Bia (age 10): Laura, let’s play Barbies.
Laura (age 8): No way.
Bia: Yes way. It’s a requirement.
Laura: Not again! Please! I hate Barbies!
Bia: Blasphemy! Nobody can hate Barbies! What’s wrong with you?
Laura: But we played Barbies 20 times already this week!
Bia: You can never play too much with Barbies. Come on! You can be Skipper.
Laura: Are you gonna be the scary Barbie with the head that flips around to change her hair color?
Bia: Sure, I’ll be Evil Barbie.
Laura: What about Ken?
Bia: What about him?
Laura: I’m tired of sharing Ken. Why do we always have to share Ken? That’s weird! Who shares Kens? Is that even allowed?
Bia: OK, you can have Ken.
Laura: What about the Town House? Who gets to live there?
Bia: You do, Skipper.
Laura: Hey, I have an idea. Let’s play Barbies!
Bia (age 15): Laura, we need to dress David up like a girl.
Laura (age 13): Say what?
Bia: Come on, it will be fun! I have this little skirt and these clip-on earrings… how cute would our 3-year old brother look in them?
Laura: Um, I don’t think that’s a good idea.
Bia: David, come here! Let’s put this on you! … how cute you look! Look, Laura, he’s adorable with that skirt hiked up to his armpits! And here are the earrings… don’t worry, it only pinches for a second… oh! How sweet! A little Davidina! Hey, Laura, go get the camera… we could use this photo in the future…
Dad: What on EARTH?!?
CREATIVITY/ENJOYMENT OF THE ARTS:
Did I mention we grew up in the Dark Ages? So our music was limited. But thanks to Bia, we made the most of our records (many of them 45’s from Mom’s youth). At least once a week Bia would coerce me into rehearsing yet another routine set to some song from one of our collection of musicals. After rehearsing til reaching perfection, we would then perform for our Dear Parents and our giggling little brother. We went all out, too, even to the point of making programs to hand out. What better way to enjoy music from Mary Poppins, Oklahoma, South Pacific, and the Sound of Music? Not to mention the Old Western music (thanks to dad’s collection) like Marty Robbins’ Ballad of the Alamo. Boy, that was some routine – people dying everywhere, but bravely. And who could forget our performance of “Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini”?!?!?!
ASSERTIVENESS (aka Bossiness):
It is the middle of the night. 3 a.m. At my aunt’s house in Italy.
Bia (age 19): Laura! Laura! Are you awake? Laura!
Laura (age 17): Wha..?!
Bia: Are you awake?
Laura: I am now! (Did I mention it’s 3 a.m.?)
Bia: Get up and close the blinds.
Laura: Are you kidding me?
Bia: No, the moon is bothering me. Go close the blinds.
Laura: Close them yourself!
Bia: You’re awake! Go close them!
Laura: You woke me up to tell me to go close the blinds?!?
Bia: You’re closer to the window.
Laura: For the love of Pete!
(This thrilling conversation continues until Laura gets up and closes the blinds. To this day she has no idea how Bia persuaded her to do this.)
ENJOYMENT OF CHORES:
Since we lived in the Dark Ages (did I mention that?) we did not have a dishwasher. So Bia and I had to take turns each night… until Bia came up with a plan to do the dishes TOGETHER to get them done faster. One of us would wash, the other would rinse, and – voila! – the chore would be done in no time. Especially if we sang the score of South Pacific while washing and rinsing!
When Bia was 13 and I was 11, she came up with the Mega Babysitting Business Plan. I had to be coerced, of course, but I soon found myself delivering hand-made advertisement cards to each house in the entire neighborhood where we lived (and it was a big neighborhood). The cards read: Babysitters Available! Sisters, ages 11 and 13. Skilled and experienced Please call! And we included our names and contact information. And a few hand-colored flowers. We trudged home after our trek around the neighborhood and waited. Bia was sure we’d be successful; I was skeptical. But at the end of that summer, when I counted my $2000+ babysitting dollars (we made $2/hour during those Dark Ages), I was done complaining! We had become the #1 babysitting team in the area!
HONESTY/INTEGRITY (This one is more recent. As in, yesterday!):
“Hey, Bia, can I borrow a pen?” I ask.
“Sure.” She pulls out her handy dandy perfect little zippered pen pouch and hands me a pen. “Don’t lose it; it’s one of my favorites.”
“Thanks.” I write a bit. Then say, “I like this pen, too. I used to have one just like…hey!” I peer closely at the pen and suck in my breath. What the…?!? “This is MY pen!” I exclaim.
She looks at me with disdain. “Impossible.”
I peer at the pen again. Yup. “YOU STOLE MY PEN!” I roar.
“Absolutely impossible,” she replies. “I’ve had that pen forever.”
I hold up the incriminating evidence and wave it in the air. “Look! It says IUG 2008. IUG stands for Innovative User’s Group. That’s a library-related conference!! What would you be doing with a library conference pen?? YOU STOLE MY PEN! PEN THIEF!”
She thinks for a moment. “I thought it was Joe’s. He always brings home pens from his meetings.”
I glare at her.
“Well…,” she says finally. “Maybe I accidentally borrowed it when I was at your house the last time?”
THE TRUTH WILL OUT!
“You can have it back.”
So there you have it. The next time you are impressed with Bia’s skills as a parent, feel free to sent me a message to thank me for being the guinea pig throughout my entire childhood. And you’re welcome!