Sorry, no fencing, fighting, torture, or revenge, although you might disagree with me on those by the time you finish reading this.
Our story starts with me calling the psychiatrist's office first thing in the morning, managing to wrangle a last-minute med-check appointment for Large Fry. We were completely OUT of her ADHD medicine after that morning's dose, and that's a bad thing all the way around. So, even though it really messed up the day, I grabbed the appointment and Hubby worked from home for the rest of the afternoon so that Large and I could drive to see her doctor for a whole ten minutes.
We got home just about 4:15, I think, and I got Large Fry started on her homework while I started picking up the living room. I had painted my toenails in there about a week before, and my little basket of nail polish and stuff was still in there, simply because I hadn't gotten around to putting it away yet.
Innyhoo, Hubby had youth staff meeting scheduled for being at our house in about two hours' time. This was the impetus for the living room cleanup, although that's typically the cleanest and most orderly room in the house. (Despite its name, we don't live there. That honor goes to the den.) As I'm stacking papers and the kids' workbooks from summer and papers they've managed to strew around. (I'm pretty sure they had help there. Feline help.) And that's when my oversized, recovery location from numerous surgeries, cozy chair-and-a-half caught my eye.
Which, I must admit, is something I didn't expect it to do. Not in the way it did, anyway.
Was that glitter?!
I looked closer.
It sure was.
Glitter nail polish, no less. I touched the seafoam green glitter streak that you can't really see all that well.
It was still wet.
I immediately hollered for children to represent. Specifically, the two youngest.
When they appeared, I pointed at the chair. "Who painted my chair with glitter nail polish?"
Wide, innocent eyes blinked back at me. Both twins vowed they hadn't done it.
I knew, since the one polish clump was still wet minutes before, Large Fry could not have been responsible. She had been with me, and had not gone into the living room since we'd gotten home. Still, better to ask rather than let the twins feel like I hadn't done due diligence in questioning. I called Large Fry up and asked her the same question.
She also said it wasn't her.
I dismissed her, and skewered the twins with a glare. "Which one of you painted the chair with glitter polish?"
Medium gave me a guileless gaze, and said, "Not me."
Small gave me a suspiciously hesitate shake of the head before saying, "Not me."
"It had to be one of you! It couldn't have been Large Fry; this was still wet, and she was with me when this was done. Who did this?"
Both still expressed their undying innocence. I gave them the hairy eyeball individually, trying to determine who was guilty.
By this time, Hubby arrived on the scene. I showed him the chair. "It could not have been Large," I stressed, "so one of them is not telling the truth."
"How do you know it wasn't Large?" he asked.
"Because it was still wet when I found it, and she was with me until we got home and hasn't been in here."
Hubby nodded; it was hard to argue with that.
He started asking questions. I was more than happy to let him take over the inquisition.
The twins both continued to deny guilt. I was pretty sure I knew who the guilty party was.
He sent them up to their room to think.
About then, I had what would prove to be a brilliant brainstorm. "Wait!" The twins stopped at the foot of the stairs. "Take off your socks!"
Small Fry toed off her socks, and so did Medium. I bent over to check their toenails and the insides of their socks. Small's toes were clean, as were her socks. I sent her upstairs.
Medium tucked her left foot up on the step behind her before I looked at her feet. Her right toes were clean. Sadness swamped me. "Show me your left foot."
She wouldn't move it, so I tugged it free.
Her left toes were covered in a very thin coat of purple polish. I looked inside her socks, although I wasn't surprised there was no polish on the insides. The one she used is terribly thin and would have dried fast as a result. I handed her the socks and sent her upstairs, too.
Then I dropped into the loveseat in the living room, across from Hubby on the couch.
"So, who was it?"
I sighed. "Medium." I had been so sure it was Small. Both she and Large Fry have fairly obvious tells when they lie. It was extremely disheartening to discover that Medium could lie suavely, almost guilelessly, and make eye contact while doing so. "She had polish on her toes."
"Do you trust me to handle this?"
I flicked my gaze to Hubby's. "Sure." I hadn't gotten anywhere before by myself, and the kids will respond better to him during discipline because he's often calmer.
He went to the stairs and called for Small Fry. She came down and sat with him on the couch while I watched.
He gently went through his questions again. She reiterated her innocence, which I now knew to be the truth, despite her restlessness and refusal to meet his eyes.
"Thank you for telling me the truth," Hubby said seriously, making sure to connect with her gaze. Then he gave her a hug and told her she could go play.
He walked to the stairs. "Medium, come here please!" Nothing in his tone sounded different from when he had called for Small. Kudos to him.
Medium came down and sat on the couch with him, too. His questions were essentially the same.
She still insisted that she hadn't used the nail polish on the oversized chair.
Hubby didn't question her for long, and he did the same thing. He thanked her for her honesty.
That was when Medium teared up and started talking about how her friends at school say that she can't disagree with her dad, or she'll get in trouble. Or that she can't say her dad's wrong, because he'll get mad at her. Hubby reminded her that he isn't her friends' dads. Just because her friends say their fathers are like that doesn't mean that he is, and she knows he isn't like that. He asked her why this was making her cry. She said she was scared.
"I think," Hubby said gently, "that maybe you want to tell me the truth now. Maybe that's why you're sad."
Medium shook her head, and talked some more about what her friends at school were saying about how you're supposed to act around your dad.
It took another twenty minutes of gentle pushing before Medium finally collapsed into Hubby's chest and confessed that she was the one who had gotten into my nail polish basket and painted her toes and the chair.
Hubby sent her back upstairs after we'd both hugged her, so that we could discuss punishment. We determined she was going to lose several privileges, along with being able to have me paint her nails again any time soon. And if I could find a way to clean it off the chair, she would have to help me do that.
He called her back down again, and Medium came slowly into the living room, holding a stuffed Rex from Toy Story.
Odd. Usually she would have her duck.
We explained the consequences of her actions. She nodded. "Daddy?"
"Rexy is my new best friend."
"Yes. Duckie and I broke up. He's not my favorite anymore. Rexy is."
I managed to keep my eyes from bugging out. They broke up? Never thought I'd hear that description. My heart clenched; I know someday she'll outgrow Duckie, but she's only seven, and I don't want her rushing that decision. I held my tongue, though, and let Hubby handle it, even though it made me want to cry.
Hubby nodded sagely. "I'm sorry to hear that you and Duckie broke up. I know how much you love him."
"Duckie said I was too mean. He doesn't want to be my best friend anymore. So we broke up."
"I'm glad that you have a new best friend in Rexy, though."
Medium did not seem pleased by his responses. "I'm going to do everything with Rexy now, not Duckie."
Hubby nodded, and Medium frowned.
"You know what I think?" Hubby said.
Medium shook her head.
"I think you're hurt because Mommy and Daddy caught you in a lie and punished you, and now you're trying to make me feel bad because you don't want to have Duckie anymore."
"Nuh-uh! I just love Rexy more now. He's my new favorite!"
"Okay. Well, it's good that you and Rexy are best friends."
Shortly after that, Medium went back to her room to play, and I got up to go fix something for a very quick dinner. I had planned to have it ready by now, so that we could eat before the meeting, but it was now going to be very, very tight...and the kids would probably be eating while we met.
Hubby chuckled quietly. "I don't think she was thrilled that I wasn't more hurt by her break-up with Duckie."
Youth staff members began to arrive as I dished up the kids' plates. I got them settled in the den, eating and watching TV, then I fixed a plate for myself and joined in on the meeting.
After about 45 minutes, Medium appeared in the living room doorway. "Mommy?"
"Can you help Duckie and me get back together?"
I caught the smiles from Hubby, Mitzy, and Chicken Little (they were there for the meeting) as I excused myself to go mend a relationship. I dropped my plate and silverware in the kitchen and sat down in the dining room with Medium and Duckie.
I held Duckie in my left hand, and looked at Medium. "Duckie, Medium is sorry that she's been so mean and that she's only wanted things her own way. Will you forgive her?" I made his little head bob. "She wants you to be her best friend again. She loves you. Will you get back together with her?" My finger bobbed his head again.
I turned to look more at Medium, and made Duckie dive into her neck and snuggle. Her eyes shone with unshed tears and delight, and she hugged him close. "There you go," I whispered. "Better?"
"Yeah. Thanks for helping Duckie an' me get back together, Mommy." She hopped down from the chair and headed back into the den.
I went back to the meeting, which I have to tell you was very anticlimactic after helping my daughter and her best friend make up.
(Incidentally, I wrote this post to have a published date for when it happened, September 15th, but didn't write it until about six weeks after the fact. My chair still sparkles.)