Carol Davidson stepped onto the back porch carrying her son and saw her two daughters playing near the stream. “Joy! Julie Ann! Get away from there this instant!” The shout caused young Nicholas to squirm in her arms. Carol’s face turned a lovely shade of pink, matching her happy spring blouse.
Girls are supposed to be easier to raise than boys. How many times have I told them to stay away from the stream?
The girls froze. Their smiles vanished, and they braced for a tongue lashing.
Carol stormed down the steps clutching poor Nick tightly. Her daughters’ half-petrified expressions gave her some measure of satisfaction, but as far as abating anger goes, it was about as effective as spitting at a forest fire. “Joy, inside now!” she barked, barely looking at her seven-year-old. Carol let Nick climb down. “And take Nick with you.”
Joy threw a half-mocking, half-sympathetic grin at her sister and did as bid. Normally, Nick would have fought Joy, but today, he meekly took her hand, gazed solemnly at his other sister as Joy led him toward the house.
Carol watched them go before piercing her twelve-year-old daughter with a stare.
“Sorry,” Julie Ann muttered, avoiding eye contact. The girl’s fiery spirit warred with her common sense. Her expression wavered between innocent and apologetic before turning defensive. “But it—”
“I don’t care whose fault it was this time, Julie Ann. You’re
older; she looks up to you—they both do. You’ve got to set an example for them.”
“It was Joy’s idea!” Julie Ann protested.
“And it was your job to tell her ‘no,’ ” Carol replied, her patience waning fast.
“I am not her keeper!” Julie Ann said, planting her right foot defiantly.
Carol stared hard at her daughter.
Well at least she pays attention in Sunday school …
“Grow up!” she snapped, immediately regretting it.
Jaw tightening, Julie Ann turned away to hide frustrated tears.
Softening her voice, Carol said, “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean that. I—I just worry about you, Joy, and Nicholas.” She pulled her daughter into a hug. “They’re younger than you, Julie Ann. You’ve got to watch over them.”