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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  1. Oh, Ruth, what a sweet story (in more ways than one)! From “Until the pixie stix” to the end I don't think I took in a breath.

    Your line about the old and new working together for a bold design is so filled with a mother's love and understanding.

    We used to have an embroidered picture of a bunny between my room and my sister's room. It said: To love something is to give it room enough to grow. This slice demonstrates the benefit of doing just that!

  2. Moments to be treasured.
    I could relate to the “looking in the rear-view mirror,” and making a prediction of what was to come. Kids can surprise us sometimes. And sometimes, they even surprise themselves!

  3. It takes a strong mom to really 'teach' her kids what they need to learn. My hat is off to you, Ruth, for feeling like an 'ogre' but doing the right thing regardless. Stephanie is so lucky to have you as her mom, and I'm so glad for her.

  4. This is a beautiful story, Ruth. I love watching our special kids' personalities emerge. I agree with you, though, it definitely takes lots of time!

  5. Stephanie is blessed to have you as her mom. She needs an “ogre” to show her the way through life. And you are right–learning to share is hard for anyone…I can't imagine how hard it must be for your little girl though. Here's to many more pixie stix to come.

  6. Love this beautiful slice. Parenting is tough. Parenting after a child experienced a rough start I'm sure is much tougher. Kudos to you both for teaching your values and I'm glad you got to see them kick in. 🙂

  7. This had to be so special to see/hear. Stephanie sounds like she is on her way thanks to you for not giving up. I'll have to remember the line “fair means everyone gets what's best for them” for my grandkids. I wish I knew this line earlier. Congratulations!

  8. Ruth, this is so wonderful. Speaking as someone who still struggles wtih sharing, I so appreciate your slice — your and Andy's work and care with Stephanie and Stephanie's growth. How lucky she is to have found a home in your family!

  9. Such drama in a slice. Your first paragraph had me completely hooked. I was right there in the front seat waiting to see what would happen.
    “I cut my eyes to the rear view mirror and turned down the volume on the radio.”
    You didn't just look, you “cut” your eyes.
    I may have to buy pixie sticks. I will use some of your sharing ideas at home.

  10. What a powerful post. You painted the picture well in the top portion, and then I enjoyed understanding why it was such a huge event through your reflections of the experience.

  11. Hooray for Steph! This is such a great story and an even more powerful reflection on your daughter. I think I can feel your shock and pride from here. 🙂

  12. Wonderful! Those winning moments are so precious. “I cut my eyes…” “I held my breath…” These lines showed the reader the anxiousness of the moment. I liked how you took the blend of pixie stix and compared that to life. Good for Stephanie. Hooray for you and Andy! (I didn't know they still made pixie stix!)

  13. What a lovely ending, a big step with the Pixie stix & who knows what's next. I like the way you gave Stephanie chances to learn to share, like dividing things 3 ways. I have a nephew adopted at six with what may be similar background to your Stephanie & it was a long road for him in his growing up. He's now a teacher and a dad and a wonderful man-just saying!

  14. Ruth,
    I read your title, “Pixie Stix,” and I had to stop by your blog. I loved this candy as a kid so I expected a nostalgic piece. A “nothing is better than a Pixie Stix” piece. An “all the world's problems can be solved by a Pixie Stix” piece. I suppose in a sense that is exactly what you've done here. You've demonstrated that a Pixie Stix can change world.

    Humor aside, your post grabbed me from the beginning. The way you used dialogue to draw us into the story, the way you shared the struggle of learning to share, and the sweet ending of victory over the challenge.

    You made me smile,