“Mother! I need help, Mother! Kallan is way too energetic! Help me!”
I walk into the room, and Maj is sitting on the couch knitting.
And Kallan is whirling and twirling around her sister like she’s a tether ball and Maj is the pole to which she is attached. Spinning closer and closer and closer.
I grab Kallan by the arm as she spins past me, and she crumples exaggeratedly to the ground, “My arm is all twisted! My arm is all twisted! You are not allowed to hurt your child, Mom. That is bad news for you.”
“Bad news for me? I don’t think so. You’re the one with the messed-up arm.”
Kallan lies on the floor and cradles her arm, “I’m going to tell on you, Mom. And that will be bad news for you.”
I walk to the front door. Open it.
And gesture with my arm that Kallan should join me, “Come on, then.”
She stands and stares at me, “What?”
“Let’s start with the neighbors. I’m sure they will be delighted to hear your tale of woe. Let’s start with them. We can get the authorities involved later if you feel it’s necessary, but let’s start with the neighbors.”
“Don’t threaten me with garbage, Kallan. I grabbed your arm to stop you from crashing into your sister and you are not hurt. At all.”
“Ummmm . . . you should not grab my arm, Mom.”
“Are you hurt, Kallan?”
“Not actually, no.”
“Then stop being ridiculous.”
And I shut the door.
Later in the day, we are out walking and Kallan is being a pill. I warn her several times about her misbehavior, and then I make her hold my hand for the remainder of the walk. She does not want to hold my hand, and so she goes all limp in my grasp.
And so I tighten my hand around hers.
And she squeals in mock pain, “You are crushing my hand! You are trying to kill me! You are smashing my fingers into mush! You are not allowed to abuse your child! I am going to have to speak up here!
And so I stop in the path, bend down to meet her eyes and speak slowly and loudly, “Do you remember our earlier conversation, Kallan?”
She stares at me, “Which one?”
“The one about making accusations you aren’t able to back up. That one.”
“Yeah, why are you talking so loudly, Mom? People can hear you, you know,” and she looks around nervously.
“I am speaking loudly so that I have everyone’s attention. Now are you or are you not injured in any way?”
She speaks low and into her chest, “No.”
“I’m going to need you to speak up, babe. I want all of the people here at the park and walking past us to know if you are injured. Because if I have hurt you? We need to get to the bottom of that right away, and all of these lovely people can help.”
I am still speaking very loudly, “But if you are lying? Then I want them to hear that as well, because I am not going to be putting up with this crap. Do you hear me?”
“OK, so let’s start again. And I will need you to speak up so that we are all clear. Are you hurt?”
“Have I ever once, in your whole life, hurt you on purpose?”
“No. Please stop yelling.”
“I am not yelling, I am speaking loudly. And I will continue speaking loudly until we have resolved this. So have we had this discussion before? The one in which we talk about lying and accusing your mother of hurting you?”
“And have we had this discussion once? Or many times?”
“But you have just lied again, is that correct?”
And then I stand and hold out my hand, “You need to hold my hand, Kallan.”
And she does.
And we walk.