Green Power

Green Power

From Chicken Soup for the Latter-day Saint Soul

Green Power

But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of Heaven.

Matt. 19:14

When I arrived to retrieve my two granddaughters Halle and Maddie for a sleepover, Halle was in “time-out” in her bedroom, while Daddy was playing with Maddie in the family room.

Hearing my arrival, Halle began begging Daddy through the air vent in her bedroom floor, which connected with the air vent above Daddy’s head in the family room, “I love you, Daddy; I’m sorry I kicked Maddie, Daddy; I won’t do it again, Daddy; is my time-out over, Daddy?”

Had Daddy not needed me to take his daughters overnight so he and Mommy could both make early-morning meetings, I would have been forced to leave without Halle. As it was, Daddy released Halle from timeout and counseled with her.

“Why did you kick Maddie?” Daddy asked four-year-old Halle about her one-year-old sister, Maddie. “Because she bugs me,” Halle answered matter-of-factly, as though her actions were perfectly justifiable and Daddy’s question was too stupid to answer.

As an involved and observant grandmother who often takes care of my two granddaughters, I can vouch for Halle’s claim. Maddie bugs her all the time, mainly because Halle is not yet used to sharing her world with a new baby sister.

I have a younger sister who grew up in my shadow, which was never easy for her. When Maddie was born, I very much feared she would experience the same thing growing up in Halle’s long and large shadow, Halle having been the only child of her parents and the only grandchild in our family for three whole years. But from the beginning, Maddie let us know that she is her own woman. As soon as she was able, she was crawling over the top of Halle to get at whatever she was pursuing, not to mention slapping Halle’s face and pulling Halle’s hair for the sport of it, I hoped, but sometimes wondered.

Halle, on the other hand, having had her own life, toys and schedule for three years, was having a very hard time sharing anything with Maddie, particularly Bama.

I never held Maddie that Halle didn’t also demand to be held. (Fortunately, I have a lap and arms big enough and a back strong enough to accommodate both.) I never fussed over Maddie that Halle didn’t also demand some fussing (which I never failed to provide). But, no matter how equal I kept things, Halle regularly complained, “You don’t love me anymore, you love Maddie more.”

So, when Maddie crossed her path, Halle would sometimes kick at her, for which she was always punished.

Daddy asked again, “Why do you kick Maddie?” Halle answered again, “She bugs me.” Daddy counseled, “She is not bugging you, she wants to play with you,” to which Halle replied, “Well, I don’t want to play with her,” to which Daddy counseled, “You have to play with her; she’s your little sister and it’s your job to take care of her.”

The counseling session could have gone back and forth for some time because Halle is not one to admit she’s wrong or to be told what to do, but Halle wisely knew her responses were tied to going home with Bama, so she let it go.

While we were driving home, we paused to admire the various Halloween decorations along the way. One yard had a giant-sized, inflated and lighted green-faced Frankenstein monster, something Halle had never seen before. “What’s Frankenstein?” she asked. Knowing she was not ready for the deep psychological story of the famed literary character, I answered simply, “Oh, just a Halloween monster” and we drove on.

Always wanting to reinforce Mommy’s and Daddy’s teachings, I asked Halle, “Why are you mean to your baby sister Maddie, who loves you?” She thought for some time before replying, “It’s the ‘green power’ in me.”

One of the things I enjoy most about being a grandmother is seeing in my grandchildren what I was too young and inexperienced to see and appreciate in my own babies and children. In fact, I have been so fascinated by my first grandchild that I have recorded her every word and action since birth, filling 700 pages before her fourth birthday. The thing that fascinates me the most is Halle’s “take” on life, her “theories,” her “logic,” her own unique way of looking at and understanding the world around her.

Halle has very long hair that she has never liked having shampooed or rinsed. The older she gets, the better she gets at rinsing it herself, but she never quite gets the bubbles out without help. When I offered to help her recently, she snapped, “No, you can’t help me.” When I asked, “Why not?” she replied, “Because you don’t have girls, you have boys.” (I am the mother of four sons, while her mother is the mother of two daughters.) “If you had girls,” she chattered on, “you could help me, but you have boys, so you can’t, only Mommy can, because she has girls.” A strange, but reasonable theory, I thought. But she didn’t stop there.

“That’s why you’re fat, because you had boys; Mommy’s skinny because she had girls; if you had girls, you’d be skinny, but you had boys, so you’re fat.” I roared with laughter.

Not only did Halle’s frankness delight me, but her “logic” fascinated me. If Bama has boys and is fat, and Mommy has girls and is skinny, then surely when it comes to weight, the deciding factor is the gender of your children. (Had I known, I would have prayed for all girls.)

And so go countless of my conversations with my delightful four-year-old granddaughter.

When Halle made reference to “the green power” inside of her, I knew I was in for another one of her delightful “takes” on life.

“What green power?” I asked.

“The green power inside me that makes me do bad things,” she replied absently, having already moved on in her thoughts.

Thinking now would be a good time to introduce the concept of Satan, I launched in, only to remember that Satan has no power over children until they are of the age of accountability, so I shelved that thought and asked more about the green power.

“You know, Bama,” Halle impatiently replied, as though I should already know what she was just figuring out, “like the green monster. When I do bad things, the green power’s in me.”

Once again, I was amazed by her logic. If that inflatable, lighted, green-faced Halloween decoration is a monster, and monsters are bad (she had seen, after all, the Disney movie Monsters, Inc.), then Halle must have that same green power inside of her when she’s bad.

Odd concept though it was, it was also pretty darn smart and logical for a four-year-old and a far better explanation than I could have come up with on the spur of the moment.

But Halle was way beyond me. While I was still contemplating green power, she was vowing that she would never kick Maddie again, emphasizing her commitment with a concluding and dramatic “ever.”

Oh, that we all had such logic and discipline.

Peg Fugal

More stories from our partners