A daughter with lip, and a great imagination (9/2006)
Inspired by my daughter, and her great imagination
Elizabeth’s mother tried to pull the covers over her daughter, but Elizabeth kicked them off.
“I don’t want to go to bed. I’m not tired,” Elizabeth said.
Elizabeth’s mom put on her serious voice and said, “It’s bed time. Tomorrow’s a school day. You know that.”
“I don’t care,” Elizabeth said. Then she pouted, hoping it would work, like it usually did.
Elizabeth’s mom looked at the clock then back at her daughter. “I’m sorry, honey,” she said, “It’s bed time.”
“Well, I don’t care,” Elizabeth said again, louder.
Elizabeth’s mom just looked at Elizabeth. She said nothing.
“How come Tyler gets to stay up late?”
“Elizabeth,” Elizabeth’s mom said, “We’ve been through this before. Many times. Tyler is two years older than you.”
Elizabeth crossed her arms across her chest and dipped her head down. After a brief stay in her sulk pose, she uncrossed her arms and suddenly pounded her fists on her bed.
“So? So? It’s just not fair,” Elizabeth screamed.
“Do not give me any lip, young lady,” Elizabeth’s mom said. She tried to stay calm.
“Well I’m not going to bed. I’m not,” Elizabeth was in full tantrum mode now.
“I said, do not give me any lip young lady,” Elizabeth’s mother said. This time, her teeth were clenched and her body was tense.
Elizabeth immediately knew that she’d gone too far.
“I’m sorry, mommy,” she said. “I don’t know what got into me.”
Elizabeth’s mother sat perfectly still and said nothing. Elizabeth too. While Elizabeth’s mother sat, stewing, an idea flashed through Elizabeth’s head.
“I’m really sorry, mom. It’s like there’s another person inside of me. Her name is, uh, ‘Lippy’.”
Elizabeth’s mother tried hard not to laugh. She said, “Really? Another person in your body with you? And her name is ‘Lippy’?”
Elizabeth nodded. “Uh huh.”
“Well,” Elizabeth’s mother said, “Lippy needs to go home.”
Before Elizabeth could answer, her mother left the room.
On Monday night, while Elizabeth brushed her teeth, her mom said, “Your room is a mess.” Then, realizing that Elizabeth might use this as an excuse to stay up late, she added, “You need to clean it up tomorrow morning, before school. I’ll wake you ten minutes early.”
“Mo-ooo-om,” Elizabeth said, stretching out the word for what seemed like over five seconds, “Do I have to?”
“Yes, you do.”
“Well, I’m not going to,” Elizabeth said. She slammed her toothbrush on the bathroom counter, then spat a glob of gooey spit-and-toothpaste mix into the sink.
“Young lady! You may NOT give me that kind of lip! Do you understand me?”
Elizabeth could see that her mom was fuming.
“It was Lippy, mom. It was Lippy, not me.”
Elizabeth’s mother put her hands on her hips and said, “Uh huh. Well, Lippy needs to go home. Soon.” She kissed Elizabeth on the forehead and said, “Good night Elizabeth. I love you.” Then she walked out of Elizabeth’s room and down the hall to her room before she started to cry.
Tuesday night wasn’t much better. Elizabeth whined and carried on about having to do her homework. Her mother tried to explain that homework was important, that it would help Elizabeth learn; but Elizabeth didn’t want to hear it. Lippy made another appearance and once again Elizabeth’s mother told Elizabeth that Lippy needed to go.
Wednesday brought Lippy out to complain about Elizabeth’s mom’s rules about watching too much television. Thursday Lippy starred once again in the Elizabeth-fights-with-her-mother-at-bedtime show. This time, Elizabeth was just plain tired and Lippy carried on about all sorts of things.
By Friday night, Elizabeth’s mother was fed up. Luckily, her husband, Elizabeth’s dad, returned home from a business trip. Elizabeth’s mom practically begged him to tuck Elizabeth in. To her great relief, he agreed.
Elizabeth’s mom stayed away Friday night. At bed time, she gave Elizabeth a quick kiss, told her she loved her, and went into her room.
After Elizabeth was asleep, Elizabeth’s mother asked, “Was Lippy there?”
Elizabeth’s dad laughed.
“It’s not funny! She has been horrible this week. She’s been giving me such lip and saying its some invisible friend or something. I give her credit for creativity, but, boy oh boy, she is driving me nuts.”
Elizabeth’s dad gave his wife a hug. He looked into her eyes and said, “Let me tuck her in tomorrow night, too.”
Elizabeth’s mom didn’t argue.
After he tucked Elizabeth in on Saturday night, Elizabeth’s mom said, “You sure were in there a long time.”
“Was she manipulating you in order to stay up longer?”
“No,” he said. “We continued our talk from last night, that’s all.”
Elizabeth’s mom asked, “Talk? What talk?”
“I’ll tell you all about it tomorrow night after you tuck her in.”
The look on Elizabeth’s mom’s face showed that she wasn’t looking forward to being on tuck-in duty again.
“I think it’ll go well,” Elizabeth’s dad said quietly.
“I hope you’re right,” Elizabeth’s mom said. “I hope you’re right.”
All day Sunday, Elizabeth’s mom dreaded the thought of having to tuck Elizabeth in at night. And yet Elizabeth was pleasant and respectful all day, no outbursts, no whining, no lip.
Finally, after a long day at the park, pizza and ice cream, and a movie, Elizabeth’s mom looked at the clock and said to Elizabeth, “Bed time.”
Elizabeth looked at her mom. Elizabeth’s mom looked at Elizabeth. The clock on the wall ticked.
“Okay, mom,” Elizabeth said with a smile.
Elizabeth’s mom looked at Elizabeth’s dad. He smiled. She couldn’t help it: she smiled too.
Elizabeth changed into her pajamas, brushed her teeth, and quickly tidied up her room.
Elizabeth’s mom came in and pulled the covers up over Elizabeth. Elizabeth pulled her arms up and out of the blanket.
“Goodnight honey,” Elizabeth’s mom said.
Elizabeth’s mom gave her a hug and a kiss, and then turned to go.
Elizabeth’s mom turned to face her daughter.
“I just wanted to let you know—” Elizabeth said. “Lippy’s gone.”
Elizabeth’s mom smiled, then walked back to Elizabeth’s bed and gave Elizabeth another kiss.
“Lippy’s gone, huh?”
“Good. Very good.”
“I love you mom.”
“I love you too honey. Now get some sleep. See you in the morning.”
Elizabeth’s mom walked down the hall to her room. Elizabeth’s dad was lying in bed watching TV. She gave him a kiss and an everlasting hug.
“Lippy’s gone?” he asked with only the arch of an eyebrow.
“Lippy’s gone,” she said. She had never been happier in her life.