pixie stix (soLs)
“You can try some of mine.” Stephanie’s words shocked me. I cut my eyes to the rear view mirror and turned down the volume on the radio. I wanted to hear if she tried to manipulate Sam out of his candy.
Sam opened his mouth and Steph sprinkled some of her red pixie stix into his mouth. “It’s good, isn’t it Buddy?” Steph asked.
“Hmmm, I couldn’t really taste it,” he said, “Can I have more?”
I held my breath, expecting a not-so-nice response. “Sure, open your mouth.” Sam obeyed, and Stephanie dumped more pixie sugar into his mouth. “It’s good isn’t it?”
Sam opened his eyes, licked his lips, and said, “Yeah! It sure is. Do you want to try some of mine?”
Here it comes, I thought, she’ll take his candy from him.
“No, that’s okay, Buddy. I’ve tasted orange before. I’m sure you’ll like it too. Do you want me to open it for you?’
“Yes, please,” Sam said, holding his candy out to her. She opened it and gave it back.
I glanced in the rear view mirror again. Both kids tilted their heads back, closed their eyes, and were enjoying their sweet-tart sugars.
I was stunned.
It’s not that I don’t expect the best out of people, but previous experience has taught me Stephanie really likes candy, and she really hates sharing. For four years, Andy and I have uttered our mantra to one another, “You’ve got to learn to care.”
For a child who’s initial life experience taught her to fight for everything and to hold on to the things that were hers, it’s been a bit of a bumpy ride learning to care and share and think of others before yourself. (Actually, who am I kidding? Learning to share is a bumpy ride for almost anyone — no matter your age or life experience.) Still it might be harder for some.
Ever since Stephanie came home, we’ve been going out of our way to help her learn to share. We buy the big size at Dairy Queen and split it three ways. We ask her to pour the milk and then give someone else the first pick. We take handfuls of Skittles, checking that the number isn’t even and give everyone a different amount. Sometimes Steph gets the most. Sometimes she doesn’t. This is the way life goes. We’ve said, “Fair doesn’t mean the same; fair means everyone gets what’s best for them,” so many times that the kids say it before we have a chance when the opportunity arises.
To say learning to share has been an uphill battle is an understatement. There has been more yelling and stomping and kicking and fit-throwing over sharing than anything else. Sometimes I’ve felt like an overgrown ogre, forcing situations to make Stephanie share.
It’s impossible to make someone share. Unfortunately, you can take away. This is what happened most often in the initial stages in the battle to learn to share. Steph came up empty handed. She would rather fight about having the whole instead of getting some. Eventually she would take some, but was missing a happy heart. She still often ended up with none. Years later, she shared when there was no other option.
But to initiate sharing when there was nothing in it for her? To share and not demand something in return? To give away candy, that sweet taste she never has enough of? That’s not something we’ve seen.
Until the pixie stix.
They may be my new favorite candy. It’s a reminder that love always prevails. The striped wrapper, with a mix of color and white, shows me old selves and new can work together for a bold design. The candy inside is just tart enough to remind me that the goodness of life can mix with sour experiences and leave us with something sweet.
Yes, I may be in love with pixie stix.
Even more, I’m totally enamored by a strong-willed little girl who has overcome great adversity and is learning to love people more than stuff (even sugary stuff).
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slices on Two Writing Teachers.