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The Mine Wars: First Blood

Bear with me as I give you the background:

Exhibit A: Tuesday afternoon Cora came home from school with a new library book. When Maddie saw the book she exclaimed, “Oh, I saw that book at the library! I REALLY want to read it! Can I please borrow it?”

Seeing Cora’s mutinous look, I hastily spoke up. “Maddie, this is a book Cora checked out and she will get to read it first. Please do not read the book or try to look at it until Cora’s had a chance to read the whole thing, ok?”

Maddie agreed.

Exhibit B: Tuesday night Cora goes to look for her new library book. It is nowhere to be found. It is eventually discovered under Maddie’s bed, who readily confesses to having taken the book and reading the whole thing.

Cora bursts into tears.

I was lucky enough to miss that particular show, being at work and all. When I got home, though, I heard about the whole thing, and I went to find a still-awake Maddie and talk with her about the situation. As we lay in bed together, Maddie said, “Mommy, I knew it was wrong, but it was sitting on the stairs and was just so tempting that I couldn’t resist. So I sneaked it away to read it, and then I was worried people would know what I did so I just hid it under my bed.”

And Maddie burst into tears.

I spent the evening trying to figure out the best way to deal with this, and I finally came up with a solution – perhaps not a good one, but the best I could figure out. I needed Maddie to see that what she did was wrong, and has consequences, but also to feel some measure of forgiveness and grace in it.

So yesterday morning I made sure Maddie was awake and agreeable, then pulled her aside for a little chat.

“Honey, I’ve been thinking about what you did yesterday, and have decided what your consequence will be. You have three choices, and you must choose one of the following: first, you can choose one item of yours and give it to Cora. It must be something of value, like a book or a bracelet, not a piece of paper, and you must give it to her willingly, not grudgingly. Second, you can choose to take money out of your savings account to go buy Cora a new book – which SHE will read first. Or third, you must let your sister pick the daily video for the next week.”

Talk about Sophie’s choice at our house.

Maddie was silent for a moment, thinking, then said, “Does Cora have anything left from her Christmas wish list that people didn’t get for her?” I opened up Cora’s wish list and Maddie found something she knew Cora really wanted and didn’t receive. “This – I’ll get this for her,” she said happily.

And she WAS happy – she looked, I don’t know, relieved, a little bit. “You do understand, I hope, that if you get this for Cora then Cora doesn’t have to share it with you?” I asked cautiously, afraid Maddie had seen this item and was hoping to provision it for herself.

Maddie nodded.

Which is how we happened to order a new art kit for Cora, which should be here tomorrow.

Maddie did some real damage to her relationship with her sister on Tuesday. Hopefully tomorrow’s gift will help repair that a bit.


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