Spirit and Fire and Dew

“You needn’t get in such a fever over it. Do learn to take things calmly, child.”

For Anne to take things calmly would have been to change her nature. All “spirit and fire and dew,” as she was, the pleasures and pains of life came to her with trebled intensity. Marilla felt this and was vaguely troubled over it, realizing that the ups and downs of existence would probably bear hardly on this impulsive soul and not sufficiently understanding that the equally great capacity for delight might more than compensate. Therefore Marilla conceived it to be her duty to drill Anne into a tranquil uniformity of disposition as impossible and alien to her as to a dancing sunbeam in one of the brook shallows. She did not make much headway, as she sorrowfully admitted to herself. The downfall of some dear hope or plan plunged Anne into “deeps of affliction.” The fulfillment thereof exalted her to dizzy realms of delight. Marilla had almost begun to despair of ever fashioning this waif of the world into her model little girl of demure manners and prim deportment. Neither would she have believed that she really liked Anne much better as she was.

Anne of Green Gables, Chapter 22

L. M. Montgomery


It is possible, within one’s own head, to play both Marilla and Anne in the same story. But sometimes trying to pretend to be the┬ásort of person you aren’t can just cause you to just be bad at being the sort of person you are. So the answer, then, lies not in changing our selves, but in learning how to keep stuff from piling up on top of those selves such that they become twisted and obscured until we can’t even recognize them any┬ámore.

Being a Fairy Princess can make everything more manageable

E. is having a difficult week. If I didn’t know better, and if she wasn’t 2, I would think she was about to start her period. She cries over big things. She cries over things that seem small to me, but must be huge to her. She gets inconsolably angry if I give her juice but don’t give it to her in a big-girl glass.
She is so bright and fun almost all of the time, and I love interacting with her because she is such a people person. This is a tough bit, but it will pass and she won’t always get so frustrated about her glass of juice. My role right now is to try to help her to move through it with as much grace as possible.
This afternoon when I got her home, we began the trial and error. Eventually sitting at the table she wanted, in the chair she wanted, with the right juice (diluted with the right amount of water), in the right glass, E. was still very distressed. So I said to her, “Would this moment be better if you could dress up like a fairy princess?” She thought about it for a minute, and said very quietly, “Yes, Mommy. I wear that.” And you know what? It was better. We sat for a while and chatted while she drank orange juice and enjoyed feeling different. Sometimes (though certainly not always), I think that the key to moving forward through overwhelming bad feelings in a given situation can be simply having the imagination to think about yourself behaving differently.