Friday, January 14, 2011

CiCi and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Portrait of the Infanta Margarita

 Diego Velázquez, c.1620
Oil on canvas
 What a beautiful little girl Miss Margarita appears to be. Look at her, dressed in her Sunday best, shining curls tamed, and posture perfect. She even knows not to lay her hands on the peplum of her silk dress, lest she soil it. Her face is a study in serenity.

Or is it? Upon closer examination, I believe I see a touch of weariness on little Maggie's face. I think she's about to lose her patience with all this posing nonsense, thinking about romping and running and getting back to the business of being a child. I'm pretty sure I see a tantrum on the horizon.

Maybe I'm just being influenced by the events of yesterday which may go down in history as the Worst Day in the World for my little granddaughter, CiCi.

What should have been a fine day of no preschool, hanging out with the Yia-Yia and enjoying the still-fresh bounty of Christmas, turned fairly ugly early on and never really recovered.

I'm glad to say I had little to do with the circumstances that occured, and I'm grateful for that. No grandmother wants to be remembered for being a disciplinarian (i.e., the "mean one") and I'm happy that it was my son who took on those duties yesterday. As for the inevitable lingering feelings of resentment? Better him than me, I say. 

Well at any rate, my perfectly sweet, charmingly beautiful and well-behaved, CiCi, evidently began the day by waking up on the wrong side of her princess bed. Way too early, I might add.

By the time breakfast for the two kids was over, I could tell that my son, their Daddy, was approaching his fill of whining, complaining, and fussing. "Oh no, don't mess with Daddy, CiCi," I thought. She didn't catch my drift.

Shortly after having that thought, Darling CiCi went upstairs to play. She was followed by Phoebe, the Most Tolerant Dog on Earth.  Phoebe is an English Bulldog, and is honestly the most docile animal I've ever known. I'm a dog lover, and have owned many dogs in my life, but Phoebe (who is really Tony & Cathy's dog) is THE sweetest dog I've ever known.

I was downstairs (minding my own business, I'm quick to point out), and my son was in his bedroom upstairs preparing to go to the bus stop with little Tony.  All was quiet for a minute or two, when suddenly the air was pierced with a combination yelp/growl that I had never heard before. 

"YYYEEEAOOOWgrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!!!," yelp/growled Phoebe. SILENCE.

In an instant, my son was at the doorway demanding to know what had just happened.


"CiCi, I asked you what HAPPENED," he insisted.

I wish I could have seen the look on CiCi's face during this inquisition, because I'm fairly certain that I could have seen the wheels turning away in her head, wondering what might be the best tactic for getting out of this sticky situation (but of course, I was downstairs, minding my own business).  Evidently, she opted for the old "Cry and You Might Get Out of It" strategy, because her reply was both alarmingly real and disturbingly funny at the same time.

"Daaaaaaaad!" she wailed, "I was just playing with Phoebe and I accidentally stood on her."

"Waaaaaah," she added for effect.

"You ACCIDENTALLY stood on Phoebe?" probed Daddy, looking desperately for some way to believe his precious darling daughter.

"YEHHHHHS Daddy!" she wailed, obviously injured by her 'fall'. "I didn't MEAN to stand on her!"

Ooops. Wrong strategy, Ceese.

The dialog that followed was a contest of wills not equaled since King Arthur's struggle to remove Excalibur from the stone.

It was done on purpose. It was an accident. On purpose. On accident. Intentionally. ACCIDENTALLY!.

The ultimate punishment was exacted. CiCi was sent to her room until she could admit what she had done, and make ammends.

Oh, the tears! The injustice of it all! I had no idea a four year old could feel such despair. (And honestly...not being willing to admit you were wrong and apologize? I have absolutely NO idea where she got that unattractive trait.)

Well, being the wise old Yia-Yia that I am, I went on about my business, but heard my son periodically check on his daughter, who stubbornly maintained her innocence.  When it was eventually time for him to leave for work (by this time it was nearly 11 a.m.), I heard my son enter her room to check on her once more. As might have been predicted, CiCi had exhausted herself with her morning's activities and was fast asleep.

At two in the afternoon She-with-the-Sunny-Disposition Cecilia Rose made an appearance. She was hungry. She was smiling shyly. She was contrite. Whew. She hugged and petted Phoebe and promised she'd never stand on her again. While fixing her a grilled cheese sandwich, I congratulated her on behalf of all the animals of the world, since she wants to be an "animal doctor" when she grows up. I think they would appreciate it if she keeps that promise.

Good job, Daddy. Good job, CiCi. Great job, Phoebe.

And a personal pat on the back to myself, for knowing that Father Knows Best.

Portrait of the Infanta Cecilia, Jo Floyd Lucas
The day ended nicely with a good long bubble bath (which everyone knows cures all ills). In this portrait, the beautiful blond-haired child wears not silk and petticoats, but a "fur" hat of silky bubbles. So there, Margarita.

It is interesting to note that the portrait of "Infanta Margarita" was only recently found in the basement of Yale University (those wacky, disorganized Eli's). It took six years to determine whether the painting was an authentic Velázquez. The proof, as they say, is in the pigment, which was traced back to pigments used during the artist's time period - as early as 1617, when Velázquez was only 18 years old. Good job, Diego, too!

I must add a very special thank you to Janiece Senn for creating a digital vintage remix of her interpretation of this blog post. Janiece, you're amazing! Click on the print pic in the right border to go to Janiece's website for other great art from her incredibly fertile imagination. Really. Do it. Now.

CiCi and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
Janiece Senn, Digital Vintage Remix, 2011


  1. Sounds like we both have hard headed grand daughters and isn't it grand? I know exactly how you felt. It's a battle to stay silent and let your children do the parenting but we do because we love them. Great story and thanks for bringing it to my attention. Thank you as well for sharing one of my prints. Feel free to use them anytime and glad you figured out how to do that. Peace sistah! Janiece Senn

  2. Hi, Jo - I certainly know from experience - never underestimate the will of a 4 yr old little girl! I've been trying to comment on your posts to tell you how much I've enjoyed your words and choice of music and art! I think I messed up my profile or something as my comment kept getting deleted and was frustating me - so trying again! Kathy Goddard

  3. See!!! I had to comment with anonymous....grrr...I will figure it out!

  4. Thanks so much, Janiece! Yes, it's a very, very, good thing to have such little girls in our world. We are so lucky!

    I can't tell you how much I appreciate your permission to use your lively, imaginative works of art. I have the BEST friends.

  5. Hi Kathy! It's a learning curve, isn't it?

    "Never underestimate the will of a 4 yr old little girl." So true...I think I should have that embroidered on a pillow!

    I'm so happy to hear from you and know that you've been reading my posts. Thank you for persevering until you got through to me. I really appreciate your comments!

  6. Hilarious story and so warm and loving. But what of poor Phoebe?

  7. What a charming post. It is hard for us Grandma's to keep our mouth shut but I too have learned the sacred art . Grace is also very independent, mind of her own and not afraid to show it! Gotta love those little girls. Once again~~~Love your posts...Love...

  8. Thank you, Jan. Forgiving Phoebe was probably more startled than hurt, and appreciated the (eventual) apology. Cheek-licking demonstrated forgiveness. :-)

  9. Oh, Vicki...I can only imagine how my tongue would bleed with six more children to watch over! How DO you do it?

  10. Oh yeah, Mama said there'd be days like this.

    Do you know about Yetzer Ha-Ra? Until the age of Bat Mitzvah, this sort of terrible day can be expected, that is, if you're Jewish. Oops. You're not. Get it together, Cici!

  11. Jewish or not, I guess a little bit of misbehavior is to be expected occasionally. Like the nursery rhyme says, "When she was good, she was very very good, but when she was bad she was awful!

  12. I haven't decided how I stand on Phoebe. Much to consider. Praise to the many art forms here and to the artists all, who fill the world with colors and meaning.

  13. I join you in that praise, long as you don't take a stand on Phoebe.

    You, too, are one of the artists who fill the world with color and meaning. Thank you.


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