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November 20, 2008

Can you please move your purse?

November 20. Day 143.

When La Sorella and I were little, things would usually go down like this:

She would aggravate the hell out of me, provoke me with pokes or tickling, until I'd snap. Bend her pinkie back or pull her hair. She'd scratch me back, maybe stab me with a pencil. (She denies that, but I still have the scar!) Fight ensued.

I'd get annoyed for no good reason -- she wanted to hang out with my friends or play with the toy I was using. I'd do something mean to teach her to leave me alone. Throw a block close enouth to her head that she got scared, but far enough to miss (lucky every time, thank God). Fight ensued.

Or -- and this was most typical in the car -- she would pretend I attacked her, screaming, "Mama! Roxy hit me!!!!" and our mom would yell at me. Fight ensued. Later.

Or -- and this happened pretty much anywhere -- I'd pull rank. Tell her she was adopted and we had another year to decide whether or not to keep her, or demand the sweater she was wearing if it had been mine, or calmly explain that I was born first so I got to eat the bigger half of a chocolate bar we received. Generally she believed me, or else she pretended she did.

By about 14 and 10, all that died down -- because we knew we didn't have to resort to physical pain anymore in order to hurt one another, because we went to different schools and spent much less time together, and because she stopped thinking I was cool enough to bother with.

All that to explain that with most people, asking for something is just that -- asking. I make a request, open a dialogue, and wait to hear what the person says. Yes? No? Okay, moving on. But when I turn to La Sorella with a question, it's so much more complicated. Requesting her for help, advice, input, not to mention butting in with my help, advice, input, is second nature.

Well, this afternoon I picked up La Sorella from the airport. Less than eight hours later, I made my first imperious request: Can you please not put your purse on this table? I'm trying to keep it uncluttered.

On one hand, BBS (bossy big sister) makes a comeback. Poor girl is back in town after living four months in a new city. She's staying with me for 10 days. And all I can think about is keeping a table neat? I, who am hardly the queen of neat? Lovely.

On the other hand, I had just moved the table by the door, put a tapestry and a bouquet on it. The rest of the house is up for grabs. But I'd like to try to keep at least one corner neat. So I asked.

No prob, she replied.

No hair pulling or flying blocks.

No time-out, even though our Mama was standing right next to us.

Gained: 20 years, give or take, since the good old days...
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