Last week, Sunflower invited Gary to a dance at her elementary school and made it crystal-clear she really wanted him to come. She was angry when she found out we knew nothing about it. The information sent home from the school was, as is typical, never passed along to us.
That night, Gary coincidentally received an email from Crow, claiming the information was just sent home that day. Ah, of course.
The dance was yesterday, and I didn’t have to ask if they had a good time. Before Gary was even home from Hickville, the school posted pictures online. Guess who was the reigning star of the school’s photo album? Gary was in nearly every shot like a celebrity, holding one end of the limbo stick, dancing with Sunflower, having a great time. Everyone around him in the pictures was smiling and laughing.
Later, as Gary was telling me about the dance, he said that Sunflower talked to him about a boy she likes and wanted to ask to the dance. She bowed out of asking him, saying she knew he didn’t want to.
Gary told her she didn’t know that for sure until she asked him. Sunflower said, “I already know he doesn’t like me.”
Then she added, “But Mama said sometimes you have to make them like you.”
Crow’s abysmal parenting is best understood in its dysfunctional context. When Crow’s father decided it was time to pass along the burden of his leech-like daughter to some unsuspecting fellow, he hand-picked Uncle Fester, a rotund dolt who had as much chance of dating again as Charles Manson. Deeming him desperate enough, pliable enough, and hard-up enough to tolerate Crow, her father commanded them to date each other and directs them through their grotesque facade of a relationship like puppets.
Fast forward to yesterday. Crow is passing along matronly relationship advice to Sunflower, advising her that forcing someone to like you, and making yourself like them, is the way to go. To embrace that as normal and to shove that onto the kids is nowhere near acceptable.
Instead of dissolving into a furious and incredulous meltdown, Gary asked Sunflower, “Do you think you are pretty?”
She said yes.
“Do you think you are smart?”
An emphatic, “I know I’m smart.”
Gary told her she is smart, beautiful inside and out, so if the little boy didn’t like her, he was missing out. Why make him like her if she was already a good person? Sunflower thought about it for a moment, seemed to realize what he was saying, and nodded her head in agreement.
It is hard enough to parent without having to scrape out the muck and garbage dumped into the children’s heads by someone else, then replace it with something sane and reasonable and well thought-out.
Sunflower was right: she is very smart. She doesn’t need to sink to underhanded and manipulative tactics to make people to like her, and she is wonderful just as she is. I hope she never forgets that and never sells herself short.