Happy Hens, kind of...

One of our favorite cultural children's books, Daisy Comes Home is about a girl in China who has the six happiest hens. The hens lay brown eggs that Mei Mei sells in the market. The story goes that the smallest hen was always picked on by the other hens who would force the little hen (by pecking and pushing) to sleep alone on the cold floor at night. Then, one day, she decided she'd had enough, so, she went down by the river and slept in a basket. Long story short, the river rose due to rain and carried off the little hen. She had to fight a bunch of animals along the way and then finally ended up at the market where some random guy was going to sell her as dinner. Mei Mei ends up rescuing her and when she gets back to the hen house, the little hen is full of new found confidence and strength and earns a place of her own on the perch with the other hens. And all the hens are happy. The end.

Our version of the story goes more like this:
(In the Car)

We are quietly riding along when Lily decides to sing a little song.

"Tomorrow, I love you," she sings.

"Stop it, Lily!" Madeline says.

"Tomorrow, I love you," Lily repeats a little more determinedly.

"You're Hurting My EARS!" Madeline says, getting annoyed.

"Tomorrow, I love you, Tomorrow, I LOVE YOU!" the broken record (remember those?) yells.

"STOP IT RIGHT NOW, LILY!" Madeline screams.

"TOMORROW, I LOVE YOU!" Lily shouts back.

(Somehow, fighting with the words "I love you" just isn't the same.) In order to try to regain control, I attempt to move the arm of the player to the next tune:

"Lily, let's sing something else," I say.

"Maaaaaaaay-beeeeeee faaaaaaaa awaaaaaaaay!" she begins. "Maaaaaaaaay-beeeeeee faaaa...."

"I DON'T LIKE THAT SONG EITHER!" yells the girl who, only a few months back, sang the same song dozens of times a day.

"What would you like to sing then, Madeline?" I ask, oh-so calmly.

"Nothing. I don't like singing," she says.


They learn to push buttons early. Lily will turn two this week but already she knows exactly how to get bloodcurdling reactions from her older sister. And though that isn't saying too much, since Madeline seems to be going through a highly reactive phase, it can be a bit humorous to those of us watching.

For example, the other day during room clean up, Lily found a penny and the scene went something like this:

"Look! A money!" Lily exclaimed.

"Hey, that's MY money," Madeline squealed.

"No! MY MONEY!" Lily said sternly.

"Give it to me, Lily. It's MY MONEY!" Madeline answered.

Lily smiled, held out the penny and said, "Here, Maaa Jane."

Madeline happily reached for it, at which point Lily pulled her hand away and squealed with laughter. The floors then started to shake, the walls trembled and the roof raised about 5 feet as Madeline belted out her indignation.

"GIVE IT TO ME!" she shouted.

"Ok, here Maaaa Jane," Lily said sweetly, holding the penny out to her.

Madeline reached for it again, while saying thank you this time, and Lily immediately pulled the penny back, giggling hysterically as Madeline fell to the ground, arms and legs flailing, and she was so angry she could hardly scream...(well, except for the 'hardly' part.)

At that point I thought maybe I oughta stick Madeline in her own basket, on an adventure down the river...but then, Lily, feeling sorry for her sisters dramatic state, (or perhaps feeling totally and utterly satisfied...such power!) handed Madeline the penny and moved on. All hens were happy again...

...Until last night when I heard a similar bloodcurdling scream from the girls' room and walked in to learn that, God forbid, Lily had the pretty, pink, kitten book that Madeline has cherished ever since Lily had picked it up a few minutes previously.

"What's going on?" I asked, already irritated since it was an hour passed their bed time.

"Lily, has my favorite kitty book and WON'T GIVE IT BACK!" Madeline wails. Lily shows me the book I don't recall ever seeing, and then proceeds to SIT ON IT so Madeline can't get it.

Amidst the crying, I browse through the bookcase and find a similar kitty book for Madeline who quickly trades it with Lily for the other book. After second thought, Madeline asks for her book back and instead of obliging, Lily, having found a new level of confidence, climbs on her bed, holds the book in the air and begins jumping, chanting, "No, MY book."

Thankfully Madeline was already on the floor so she couldn't hurt herself in the collapse that followed...

I left the room to look for a big enough basket but fortunately, when I returned, Madeline had exhausted herself and was sleeping peacefully on the floor, leaving Lily to quietly read both books on her bed. And at least one chick was happy. The end.

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