The Mii Plaza
Katie was frustrated with her sister. She had just discovered that Brooke had once again erased her Mii (her custom designed avatar) from the Wii.
Brooke loves to make Miis. Lots of them. Hundreds of them. When she says that she wants to ‘play the Wii’, what she really means is ‘makes Miis’. She doesn’t actually play any of the games that the system is designed for, but instead spends as much time as we’ll let her creating Miis and manipulating them on the screen.
They walk in parades, gather in the Wii plaza, and wander here, there and everywhere. Eventually, the system runs out of room, so she deletes what she’s made in order to do it all over again. This time, Katie was convinced that Brooke hadn’t just erased her own Miis, but hers too. And she wasn’t having it.
In a big-sisterly huff, she declared her accusation. “Brooke,” she said emphatically, “you CAN’T do that. It’s NOT OK to make my Mii go away.”
Brooke squeaked a pained, high-pitched, “I’m sorry, Katie!” to which her sister quickly responded, “You always say you’re sorry, but you CAN’T keep doing this!”
I eventually stepped in as Brooke began to cry and Katie grew more frustrated.
Brooke shrieked again, “I’m sorry, Katie!”
I knew what Brooke needed to hear. And so did Katie, but she wasn’t giving it up.
“Brooke,” she said, “I know you want me to say it’s OK, but it’s not. It’s not OK.”
As Brooke yelled and Katie began to react again, I said, “Kiddo, I got this. I understand that you’re upset, and rightfully so, but let me talk to her, OK?”
I explained to Brooke – yet again – that she could only erase the Miis that she had made herself. I told her that if she erased Katie’s Mii again, she would not be allowed to play on the Wii for three days. And I told her that Katie was feeling angry and that was OK.
She began to cry and tried again. “I’MSORRYKATIE!” she yelled as one giant word.
“Brooke,” Katie said, ” I accept you’re apology because I love you, but it’s still not OK.”
Brooke was apoplectic. Katie knew exactly what she was doing. She knew that Brooke NEEDED to hear, “It’s OK.” It’s a script, you see. When someone says “Thank you” someone else say, “You’re welcome.” When someone sneezes, someone else says, “God bless you.” And for heaven’s sake, when someone says, “I’m sorry,” someone else HAS TO SAY, “It’s OK.” It’s the way it works. And Katie knows better than anyone, it’s the way – to Brooke’s mind – that it HAS to work.
Brooke began to spin her wheels. She wandered from one couch to another, bouncing between me and Luau. She asked me to tell her that if she cried she’d have to go to the blue couch. She then pretended to cry in my face. “Where do you have to tell me to go now?” she asked when I didn’t react quickly enough. I played along and sent her to the blue couch. The process seemed to soothe her frayed nerves.
And then it happened. Katie turned to me with a red face and wide, dewy eyes. “Um, Mama?” she said, quickly looking down at her feet. “I found my Mii. It looks like she didn’t actually erase it after all.”
She started talking a mile a minute. “I don’t know how it happened, Mama. I swear I looked everywhere for it and I even put them in order to try to find it but it didn’t show up and now suddenly here it is and I just don’t know how that happened but I’m really sorry because I got so mad at her and now here it is after all and she didn’t actually make it go away and I SWEAR it wasn’t there a minute ago.”
I looked over at Brooke, now bouncing feverishly on her favorite exercise ball. The whole time, she hadn’t said a word. Having been accused of something that she hadn’t done, she had never made an attempt to defend herself. She had simply said, “I’m sorry.”
I wondered if she had understood. I wondered if she’d thought that she really did do it. I wondered if she got it now. I wondered if the whole dang thing had just been a confusing jumble of words.
Katie apologized to her and gave her the Wii remote. “Here, Brooke,” she said tenderly, “you play now, OK? I’m really sorry.”
Brooke took the remote and headed back to the Wii plaza to watch the parade of Miis. As she settled in, she issued a declaration.
“I’m mad at you, Katie.”
I was in knee-jerk referee mode and I stepped in without thinking. “Brooke,” I said, “that’s not very nice to say.”
Even before I’d finished the sentence I regretted it.
It was Katie who spoke next.
“Actually, Mama, I think it’s a pretty great thing to say. I mean, think about it. She kinda SHOULD be mad at me. And she SAID it. She didn’t YELL it. She didn’t DO anything about it. I mean, she could have thrown something or screamed or done that pushing thing that she does in the air, but she didn’t do ANY of that. She just SAID, ‘I’m mad at you.’ I mean, that’s pretty awesome, don’t you think?”
Of course I did. I told her to carry on without me and just let me know when it was time to pay the bills as I obviously wasn’t needed for anything else. She rolled her eyes and we both laughed.
And then together, we told Brooke how proud we both were that she could tell us how she felt and how wonderful it was that she was able to do it so calmly.
“I’m mad at you.”
If only we all had the good sense as to simply say those words when we felt them. Imagine how much energy would be saved – how much brooding and festering and resentment would be avoided.
I sat back and took it all in, realizing that once again my children had taught me so very much more than I could dream of teaching them.
Don’t mind me, I’m just here to pay the bills.