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Monday, July 31, 2006

personalized baby blanket: Sister standoff: Sly fox vs. stubborn mule

Christopher Smith

Here's an old philosophical problem: What happens when an irresistible force meets an immovable object?

With two girls about 18 months apart, we'll spend the next two decades finding out.

The Girl, even at 4, is a talker — a manipulative, flattering, tricksy bulldog of a talker. The Mommy predicts she'll become attorney general of the United States if she isn't convicted of a major felony first.

The Baby, only 2, is stubborn — a wall of will, unshakable by the pleading and ordering of peer or parent once she sets her mind on what she wants to do.

Conflict comes on the hour.

In the kitchen, we have a wooden platform/stepladder that the kids can climb on or into. Naturally, their favorite spot is inside, and there's room for only one. The ladies decided to play in it one day and raced to the kitchen. The Baby got there first, climbed into the box and began wrapping up her stuffed Puppy for "naptime."

"Sweetie!" The Girl whined when she came in the room. "That was for mine naptime place."

The Baby ignored her.

Whining didn't work. So she tried barking: "Get out, Sweetie! I'm using that place!"

"No," The Baby said.

The Girl walked around a bit, formulating a strategy, maybe letting some time pass before lowering the bait.

"Hey Sweetie, I have an idea!" The Girl said brightly.


"Get out."

"No," The Baby said.

I could have told her that wouldn't work, but apparently The Girl wasn't done.

"Here's mine idea," The Girl said. "You come out of there for we can sit on the steps and be sisters."

"No, I the sister," The Baby objected. "You the mommy." And there's the nibble.

"OK!" The Girl shouted like a cheerleader on a chocolate high. "I be the mommy and you be the sister for we can sit on the steps together!"

"OK!" The Baby climbed out, hook in mouth.

They sat on the steps together, chattering and hugging. It was kind of sad really: The Baby having such a good time — happy, laughing — in the midst of a terrible manipulation.

This went on for about three minutes before The Girl had another "idea."

"Let's play tent, and I'll make a tent with your Bunkie for you to sleep on it on the top."


The Girl took The Baby's blanket and wrapped it carefully around the rails at the top of the box, then draped it over her head. The Baby curled up with her puppy and pretended to snore.

The Girl stepped back and checked her handiwork. In a matter of five minutes, she'd tempted and teased her little sister from a hardened "No" into doing exactly what she wanted. The Girl crawled into the lower part of the box and curled up, wrapping her arms around her knees and looking out at me and The Mommy. She peeked out and up at her little sister with a look that said, as clearly and loudly as if spoken by a midway carny: "Sucker."

The Girl better enjoy it while it lasts. It won't take long before The Baby figures out her sister's best ideas are in her worst interest.

Christopher Smith is news editor of The Leaf-Chronicle and can be reached at (931) 245-0288 or at His book, "Tales from the Front Seat," is available at Borders in the mall, at Hodgepodge, 125 Franklin St., or on his Web site at

Originally published July 30, 2006