My cousin, Helen, told me a good story about her granddaughter, Scarlet.
Scarlet is eight years old and an extraordinary child. People gasp at her beauty, and she has phenomenal poise and confidence. When I was remarking on it, as everyone does, Helen told me about an incident that occurred when Scarlet was four.
Helen and Scarlet had been visiting a family friend, and when they were leaving Helen said goodbye to the friend as they got into the car. She noticed Scarlet wasn’t saying goodbye. When she asked her why she wasn’t saying goodbye, Scarlet “pulled the shy card,” Helen said.
“I don’t want to; I’m shy,” said Scarlet.
“I just decided then and there we weren’t going anywhere,” said Helen. “I asked Scarlet to say goodbye and told her I didn’t want to leave until we had said it.” For the next while they sat there in the car, with Helen continuing to ask and Scarlet continuing to resist.
I didn’t get angry or raise my voice. I just calmly repeated my request that Scarlet say goodbye, and waited. Finally, after 15 minutes, Scarlet chose to say goodbye and we drove off happily. Now, four years on, Scarlet still refers to that day from time-to-time. Every so often, she’ll talk animatedly to me about “the day we sat in the car”.
What I get from the story is that Helen took a stand for Scarlet and her greatness, and Scarlet understands that. It would have been easy for Helen to give up, or get angry and dominating, and she didn’t. She stood for Scarlet being the biggest human being possible.
The everyday idea of love is that it’s this soppy, “nice”, feel-good emotion. Not at all. Love is what Helen did that day. And Scarlet is testament to it.