The first house I remember living in was a rock duplex we shared with my great-grandmother. Oh, I loved her with a fierceness, and I grieve her still. She was magical, all chocolate pudding and Play-Doh and paper dolls, all the things my own mother didn’t allow. She made my treasured glittering Christmas stocking and I loved brushing her downy white hair. My Grandmother Rushing was everything your great-grand is supposed to be, all sweetness and soft, warm lap. But she was also a woman that tolerated zero foolishness, and she never shied away from using a switch to correct a child.
I vividly remember her talking to my brother and me about bad little children. Bad little children received lumps of coal in their stockings, glittering or not. Santa was always watching, he saw every good deed and every transgression. Consequently, my sweet brother and I flew right during the holiday season. I imagined the heartbreak of little children, all over the world. They were on the Naughty List, so terrible it was capitalized. They were rising to ugly lumps of black sooty rock in their stockings, no gifts or chocolates to be found.
My 8-year-old daughter Bodacious needs a healthy dose of Grandmother Rushing. I do not know where I have gone wrong with her. Or maybe I have gone horribly right. She does not give two figs about her behavior around the holidays. Or any time else, for that matter. I remember the last time my dad kept her for the weekend. As he staggered to my car and helped her into the backseat, he turned to me and said, “I don’t know if she is a diva or an outlaw. Maybe a little bit of both.”
He shut the door without another word, and shuffled back to his truck.
Same, Dad. Same.
Earlier this month, The Hubs had a big open house event at the office. Muy importante folks and fancy food abounded. Bodacious and I had already gone ’round and ’round before arriving, and I was shell shocked and huddled by the wine bar.
The week before, we had selected a beautiful sleeveless taffeta plaid dress to wear, black ballet slipper flats, a cardigan and purse. I removed the tags and sent everything to the dry cleaners – I don’t iron. She was thrilled. Until the day of. And then the dress itched. And her shoes were … “floppy.” The cardigan made her skin crawl and the matching bow was for BABIES!
No amount of cajoling-turned-threatening could make her change her mind. She decided she should just stay home. And Lord help me, I completely entertained the idea … . Forty minutes later, I was trying to comb her hair and smooth out a wrinkled t-shirt dress in the backseat of an Uber. Do you know how hard it is to zip suede boots onto I-have-to-wear-my-brother’s-sweat-socks wearing feet whilst wearing leather pants in the backset of a small SUV? Not easy.
Once we got to the party, someone took pity on me and whisked my precious angels into The Hubs’ office where I ignored them for the next hour and a half.
And that’s when the … poop hit the proverbial fan. She left his office to use the bathroom. When she returned, the door was locked and Tom, the facilities director, would not let her back inside. Unbeknownst to her, Santa was in the office changing and Tom didn’t want to ruin the surprise. So he made her wait for a bit until he could let her back in.
The next day, The Hubs came home dying. Dying of pride and embarrassment. Apparently, Bodacious had stumbled upon some fake … poop left over from a birthday party gag. Still in rare form, she threw said poop at the ceiling until it stuck there, hanging above his desk like the North Star.
Then she wrote a note for dad to find: “I had a dump on the ceiling. From, Tom.”
Now, Tom has the sweetest disposition and we love him! He has a servant heart and an even bigger heart for children. Tom and The Hubs decided to roll with the whole scenario and teach Bodacious the error of her ways.
The following day, The Hubs came home and told Bodacious how bad he felt, but he “had to fire” Tom for his transgression. Sigh, right before Christmas, too.
Y’all. She looked us right in the eyes. “That is bad timing for Tom.”
Speechless. They just knew she would confess her trick and beg The Hubs to make things right. But she went down with her story like the Titanic.
Tom tried a new tactic. Just before Christmas, a mysterious package was delivered. It was to my precocious daughter, from Bernard, Santa’s Head Elf. It was full of (chocolate) coal lumps and a poop-shaped pillow. She was hereby on notice: She had been placed on the Naughty List (bam-bam-baaaammmm).
We waited with baited breath. Would she laugh? Would she cry? Would she admit the truth and clear Tom’s good name?
Ummm, no. Not one bit of guilt or hesitation. As she hugged the poop pillow tight, she looked at The Hubs and said, “I am going to blame other people more often if this is what happens.”
Poor Tom was flabbergasted.
“I didn’t see this coming,” he admitted.
But I did. My dad called it, diva and outlaw in equal measure. She knows how to pull off a joke, too. I admire her stick-to-it-ive-ness, the sheer moxie with which she operates. I am proud and jealous and fearful in equal measure.
I think Grandmother Rushing would have backed Tom on this one. Having well-behaved, mannered children was important to her. But to be honest, I would not change Bodacious for anything. She may be on Santa’s “naughty” list, but The Hubs and I wouldn’t want her any other way. And Tom, who married a feisty woman himself, doesn’t really want to change her, either!
From our family to yours, we wish you all wonderful holidays. Cheers to the women (and sweet girls) that make life merry!