The Bell Affair

Our month of kindness has begun paying off. Sort of.

It takes Javi and Bella longer to start bickering and they're more likely to allow the other one to win verbal battles. They spot and get excited about participating in volunteer opportunities, and each have tried to literally give their friends the shirts off their backs.

But I've come to realize that the message they received last month wasn't 100 percent clear. Take, for example, the way Bella's accosted the Salvation Army bell ringer last night after we had just spent a good five minutes discussing the purpose of the donation pot each bell ringer guards.

He was innocently clanging his bell at people as they entered and exited a local store. Bella heard that ringing a mile away and became extremely enthusiastic about getting to the ringer. Once we got there, she began to painfully and obviously embarrass her mother.

It went something like this.

Bella to the bell ringer: My mama has coins! I'm gonna give 'em to you for the people and you're gonna give me that bell.

[Bella holds her hand out to me while keeping her eyes on the bell]

Me: Lady, that's not how it works. Here's some change. Drop it in the slot.

Bella: No thanks. I want the bell.

The ringer: You're a pretty girl aren't you! Let's put your money in here [motions to the slot] and then I'll give you a sucker!

Bella: I'll take the sucker, but I'm still taking the bell.

Me: Enough. Put the money in and get your sucker. I'm ready to go.

Bella: I. Want. That. Bell!

[The ringer looks at me, completely lost as to what to do.]

Me: You have two choices: You can put your money in and take the sucker, or you can put the money in and not take the sucker. You choose.

Bella: I'm not paying him if I don't get that bell.

Me: You aren't paying for anything. This is a donation and you get a sucker as a thank you.

Bella: No, I'm giving him my coins and he's giving me my bell.

Me: That's it, let's go.

[Bella jerks away and lunges at the ringer. I have to pull her off of him kicking and screaming.]

Me: We're done!

[Walking away from ringer holding Bella as she settles from thrashing back to normal behavior.]

Bella yelling to bell ringer: Fine. Keep your bell! It's not even golden like a real bell! I don't want your bell!

Me: Hush! You are being rude!

Bella still yelling to the bell ringer: Sorry for being rude about your ugly bell! Have a nice evening! Your bell is still ugly!

All that talk about good deeds and sharing what we have with those who are in need, all those hours of giving without the intention of receiving, and all those acts of service just for the sake of being kind and not for the goal of anyone doing anything to pay us back...

All of that work, and yet my daughter tries to attack the bell ringer after her refuses to sell her his bell for the three dimes and handful of pennies she offered him.

Welcome to the wonderful world of parenting!


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