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Using the Village

A bad morning usually ends at the water’s edge, meaning that as soon as the kid sees the crossing guard on the way to school, the tantrum abruptly ends. Not so for Cory’s epic Monday morning. Her antics continue as Daddy drags her past the crossing guard and about ten cars stopped on either side, and well onto the school grounds. Daddy pulls the plug halfway across the playground, deciding that she is not fit for school.

D: Cory, you are not going to school today. We are dropping Fisher off, and…
C (mortified): No, Daddy!
D: …we are walking back home. You are not going to see your classmates today, and…
C (sobering up quickly): Please, Daddy!
D: …you are not going to play with your friends at the Y.
C: Please, Daddy, can you just give me another chance?
D: The “another chance” ship has sailed, Cory. You had plenty of other chances this morning. You took none of them. We’re done.

D (marching her into her classroom to speak with her teacher, alone): Good morning, Mrs. Powell.
Mrs. P (quickly sizing up the situation from Cory’s demeanor): Good morning. Hi, Cory.
D: Cory has had a tough morning and will not be in class today.
Mrs. P: Okay. That’s too bad.
D: Cory has said some very mean words to her Papa and to her Daddy and is in no condition for class. Hopefully, she will pull herself together and be ready to come back to class tomorrow.
Mrs. P: Cory, we are going to miss you today. I hope you improve your behavior, and I look forward to seeing you tomorrow, okay?

Cory nods. Daddy marches her to the school office.

D: Good morning.
O: Hi there.
D: Cory has displayed some very bad behavior this morning. So, she is not able to come to class today.
O: Oh, okay. I’m sorry to hear that.
D: Yah, well, I was sorry to see it. Hopefully, Cory will have a better day tomorrow. I’ve already told Mrs. Powell.
O: Well, thanks for letting us know. Cory, I hope you feel better today.
D: Thanks.

Cory is silent. Daddy marches her to the Y after-care office. Rinse and repeat. Daddy looks around for Mrs. Benadom, the school principal, who might as well be Elsa in Cory’s eyes.

D: We should find Mrs. Benadom to let her know how you behaved this morning, Cory.
C (pleading and looking completely devastated): No, Daddy, please! Please don’t tell her! Please.
D: We really should find her.
C: Please, please, please, Daddy, don’t.
D: But, don’t you want her to know the things you said this morning?
C (whimpering): No.

Daddy decides not to play the Benadom card. There’ll definitely be another “rainy day” ahead. As Daddy says bye to Fisher, classmates ask why Cory is going home.

F: Cory just…
D: Fisher, we don’t need to share the details. Cory just needs a day at home today.
F (as Daddy reaches the edge of hearing): …well, Cory was really bad this morning. She has to go home and do a timeout all day.
Kid: All day?
F: Uh huh. She was REALLY bad.

All-day lockdown Monday is rough. The day after is rocky as well. Throughout, though, Cory is transparent in her desire to rehabilitate herself in Mrs. Powell’s eyes, if not Daddy’s and Papa’s. Forty-eight hours later, at the tail end of a good morning, she is begging to take a hardened peep off the mantlepiece as a gift to Mrs. Powell.

D: I’m not sure she’s going to like that peep, Cory. It’s so hard.
C: But, it’s so cute. It is like the chickies that we held this weekend.
D: Those were alive.
C: I know, but, Daddy, can I please take it for her? She can just use it as a decoration? Not to eat it.
D: Okay.
C: Thanks, Daddy! Mrs. Powell will like this little peep!

It takes a village…to shame a child.

Easter Poke

Papa’s been hopping around in this bunny costume for years. At six months old, they were oblivious blobs, Sunday it will all be excitement and awe, but the best throwback is to eighteen months. Cory bawled if the Easter Bunny got within three feet of her (and definitely would not tolerate posing for a picture), while Fisher, of course, poked him in the eye.

Siana’s Starflowers, Part II

A few nights after the first go at the Siana Starflower story (read the prior post if you care to follow)…

D: As Siana’s body began to fall, Patrick hurried across the Valley to her. Witches can move fast when they want to, and as Patrick flew to Siana’s side, he joined his song of power to hers, making sure that her spell did not end. When Patrick reached Siana, exhausted, she had fainted. Patrick finished the song for her, holding her in the middle of the field of starflowers, and as he did, he realized that their spell had failed. It had to fail, because nobody, not even witches as powerful as Patrick and Siana working together, can conquer death. When his voice stopped and the spell that he had finished for his sister came to end, do you guys know what happened?
C: No.
F: What, Daddy?
D: Well, only Patrick was there to see, in that moment, that every starflower in the valley, each of which had been alive and blooming for nearly a year while Siana sang her song of power, burst from its stem to race across the sky in a blaze of brilliant blue fire. The display was magnificent! It was like fireworks on the Fourth of July. Instead of wilting and fading and dropping to the ground as brown-grey husks, those starflowers rose above the Valley at the end of their lives, each streaking across the sky like a rising, instead of a falling, star, before exploding in a flash of light. Patrick held Siana and watched the starflowers burst above them. Doesn’t that sound beautiful?
F: It does!
C: Daddy, can we see that?
D: Remember that Patrick’s Valley is in Withy Land? Do you want to go to Witchy Land?
F/C: No!
D: Well, only Patrick was there to hear how Siana’s magic starflowers came to be. (Daddy moves arms out from under them.) And, while Siana could not create a flower that does not die, she, with her brother’s help, did create a flower that does not fade and wilt. (Daddy picks Fisher up and lifting him into the top bunk.) To this very day, travelers from all over the worlds seek out Patrick’s Valley to see Siana’s Starflowers, not one of which ever wilts, withers, or fades, when its time has come. (Daddy picks Cory up and lifts her into the bottom bunk.) Whenever a starflower’s life reaches its end, it bursts in full bloom from its stem, rising above the valley, blazing bright blue across the sky, before winking out in a final flash. (Daddy covers each of them. They move around and get settled for sleep.) Some say that as each flash fades, a quiet echo of Siana’s last cry, mixed with Patrick’s fresh strength, can be faintly heard throughout Patrick’s Valley. And those there to watch are filled with joy and wonder, yes, but a touch of sadness, too. But, Siana’s not sad when she watches them rise above her, especially if her brother is there to watch what they created with her. No, the two of them just smile. But, guys, for you to see the starflowers, you would have to go to Witchy Land.

Pause.

D (knowing that, in light of Daddy’s other stories about Witchy Land, their going there is a nonstarter): Now, give me some daps.
F: Daddy, can you just tell us that story again?
D: No, Fisher, it’s bedtime.
C: But, Daddy, can’t you just see those starflowers without going to Witchy Land?
D: No, Cory. Those flowers only grow in Patrick’s Valley.
F: Aaaaaah.
D: Daps, guys.

A couple weeks later, someone at school teaches Fisher how to draw stars. He is making stars to show off his new skill, while Cory is drawing ladybugs with people faces. When it isn’t bedtime, they like for Daddy to draw pictures and tell stories about the pictures. Planning to tell the starflower story again, which it isn’t clear that they remember, Daddy begins with the tree trunks.

C: Daddy, what are you drawing?
D: Darkwing Forest.
F (excited): Daddy, can you draw those starflowers?
D (surprised): You remember the starflowers?
F: Uh huh.
C: And, can you show them flying through the sky? (Handing Daddy a blue crayon.) Here, Daddy, they are blue. So, you need a blue one.
D (laughing): I didn’t think you guys remembered that story.
F: Yah, Daddy, can you draw them flying across the sky like they er, eh, uh do?
D: Okay. But, Fisher, you know how to draw stars now, so I’m going to leave some of the stars for you to draw, okay?
F: Okay!
D: You can draw the ones whose time has come to burst across the sky, okay?
F: Okay.
D: And, Cory, can you help with the trees? The leaves need a little work.
C: What color should they be, Daddy?
D: Yellow and green.
C: Okay.
D: Now, do you remember how Siana’s Starflowers came to be?
C: Yes.
F: Tell that story, Daddy!
D: Once upon a time…

Siana’s Starflowers, Part I

At dinner around a centerpiece plastic cup full of fading flowers from the backyard pots…

F (for at least the twentieth time): Daddy, why the flowers in the er, eh, uh cup…why they have to die?
D (for the same number of times): Cut flowers don’t last that long.
F: But, why they just have to die like that?
D: Well, remember? Even flowers left on their stems in the pots don’t last forever. They last longer than cut flowers do, but they don’t last forever. No living thing lasts forever.
F (dismayed): Ooooh! I don’t like that.

At bedtime…

D: Do you guys want to hear a bedtime story?
F/C: Yah!
C: But not the one about the coyotes, okay, Daddy?
D: Okay.
C: I don’t like those coyotes.
D: I know. Well, once upon a time, there were two witches.
F: Were they good witches?
D: Well, you can decide when you hear the story. They were a boy witch, named Patrick, and a girl witch, named Siana. And…
C: I don’t want a bad witch story tonight, Daddy.
D: It’s not a bad witch story, Cory. It’s really a flower story.
C: A flower story?
D: Yes, a flower story. A story about trying to stop flowers from fading. Now, can I tell it?
F/C: Uh huh.
D: See, Patrick and his sister, Siana, loved all living plants, but Siana loved flowers most of all. She travelled all over the worlds, learning the name of every flower. And, wherever Patrick and Siana went, casting their spells, plants grew faster, lusher, and greener. And wherever they went, flowers bloomed bigger, brighter, and longer. In fact, legend has it that it was Patrick and Siana who taught the gnomes how to sing their first songs of power, teaching them to plant and keep the worlds’ greatest gardens.
F: They taught eh, er, uh Pucker-joo how to sing?
D: Yes, they did. Legend has it. Now, if you could understand their language, you would hear, in each gnome’s song of power, a whisper of Siana’s name. It is to her that they sing, and it is in her name that their gardens flourish. Did you know that?
F/C: No.
C: Daddy, can you understand that language?
D: The language of the gnomes?
C: Uh huh.
D: A little bit, but even less than I understand French.
F: Papa speaks French.
D: Yes, he speaks a little French. I speak a little German and a little Spanish. But, neither one of us can speak much Gnome.
F: Oh.
D: So, the gnomes have brought into the world its most beautiful flowers. But, none of those flowers is more magnificent than Siana’s Starflower. See, in all of her wandering and through all of her studying, it became a source of great sorrow for Siana that she could not prevent flowers from withering. As everyone knows, when you…
F: Daddy, what’s “sorrow”?
D: Sorrow means sadness.
F: Oh.
D (fighting exasperation): Now, as everyone knows, when a flower is picked for a vase, it will fade…and fade quickly, more quickly than if the flower had been left unpicked. But even a flower left planted in the ground must eventually fade, wither, and die. Siana made it her life’s work to understand flowers. She gained the power to urge flowers to have brighter, more brilliant colors. And she gained the power to coax certain flowers to bloom twice as large as normal. And, she understood the many, many uses for every flower throughout the worlds. Witches from all over consulted Patrick to understand how to grow living things and to Siana they came to learn to how to use leaves and petals in their potions.
F: Daddy, did Kleodora ask er, uh, eh Sienna how to use that uh, er, eh bad yellow flower in her potion?
D: No, Fisher, Siana didn’t tell Kleodora about that. But, that’s another story. This is a different one.
F (snuggling): Oh, okay.
D: No matter how hard she tried, while Siana could extend the life of flowers well beyond normal, she could not create a flower that never wilted. And, no matter how much joy she felt at each new bud and bloom, she could not avoid the sadness of seeing the older ones fade to brown and grey over time. For hundreds of years, Siana grew ever sadder that her songs could not stop flowers from wilting. Patrick tried to convince his sister to be content with the mortality of living things, but his sister’s sadness would not go away. And neither would her determination. One day, when Patrick was far away from Darkwing Forest, studying the strangle-vine, a particularly aggressive type of vine that you don’t ever want to meet by yourself in a jungle, Siana decided to attempt a song of power to achieve her life’s goal.
F: Daddy, what’s a “life’s goal”?
D: It’s what someone really, really wants to do. Like, Siana. She wants to make a flower…
F: …that doesn’t die?
D: That’s right.
F: Oh.
D (nudging): Cory, are you awake?
C (barely awake): Uh huh.
D: Siana travelled to Patrick’s Valley, the only place in all of the worlds where her brother’s favorite flower — the starflower — grew. Do you know where Patrick’s Valley is?
F: No.
D: In Witchy Land. It’s near Darkwing Forest. Now, starflowers bloomed in every shade of blue in Patrick’s Valley, every single bud shaped as a star come to earth. Siana walked into the middle of the valley, drew all of her strength around her, and began to sing a song of power, the strength of which the worlds had never heard. The low tones of that song rumbled under the soil throughout the valley while the high tones filled the sky over the valley, and everything in between conveyed health and strength and endurance through the grasses and starflowers growing around Siana. Day turned to night and night turned to day. And Siana kept singing.

Daddy notices that Fisher stops fidgeting. Cory is a dead weight.

D: Weeks became months, and still Siana sang. For close to a year, Siana sang her song, never stopping to eat, sleep, or move. For that year, the same starflowers that had bloomed when Siana began her song stayed brilliant, bright, and blue. For that year, tales grew around Darkwing Forest of Siana’s efforts, and creatures came from far and wide to see her trance and to hear her sing, most hoping she would not fail, the wisest among them knowing that she could not possibly succeed.

Daddy pauses. Hearing nothing…

D: A year after Siana began her song, Patrick finally came home. And, as it happened, only he was there the day that Siana’s song finally ended. Only he saw, from across the valley, Siana’s body shaking as her strength began to fail. No one else was there to hear him cry out to her as she seemed about to fall, and no one else was there to hear the last note of Siana’s song. That note was one of deep, deep sadness. Have you guys ever heard a note like that?

Silence.

D (for good measure): Well, Patrick rushed across his Valley to help his sister, and as he did, he joined his song of power to hers, making sure that the spell did not end. Patrick finished the song for Siana as he reached her unconscious body, lying in the middle of the field of starflowers, and as he did, he realized that their spell together had failed, as Siana’s own song had to fail, because no one, not even witches like Patrick and Siana, even with their powers combined, can conquer death. But, when his voice stopped and the spell that he had finished for his sister came to end, do you know what happened?

Silence. Guess they’ll have to find out the end of the story next time…