Updated: 6 days ago
Every Witch's Voice Has a What's-Wrong-With-You Tone
Keri was dancing and twirling, hopping and laughing.
Suddenly her mother shouted, “Keri no! Not in the living room!”
At that moment, Keri’s hand hit the lamp shade, crashing the lamp it to the hardwood floor.
Her mother said, “Oh Keri! It's bent!”
Picking up the lamp, she missed the stricken look on her daughter’s face.
During their mid-afternoon snack, Keri reached for another cookie and bumped her milk. Wide-eyed, she watched as the cup overturned and rolled off the table. Milk splashed everywhere.
With a sigh of exasperation, her mother said, “Oh Keri, look what you’ve done.”
Yanking a towel from the rack, she did not see her daughter's look of shame.
That night, Keri and her mother were sitting in bed with a new book. Her mother was reading about a desperate battle between the prince and the wicked witch.
She read: “...and the witch began to use her most powerful spell. Her voice was so terrible the prince shook with fear.”
Keri interrupted, “Are you a witch Mommy?”
Her mother laughed and said, “Of course not, Sweetheart. Why?”
Keri looked away.
After a moment, her Mother softly asked, “What is it Keri?”
Keri remained silent.
Her Mother tried again: “Please Sweetheart, tell me.”
Continuing to look away, Keri whispered, “Your voice hurts.”
“Oh Keri. When?”
Her mother frowned in silence and then asked, “Do you mean when I said, ‘Oh Keri, look what you've done?’”
Turning back to her Mother, Keri said, “Not words Mommy, voice.”
In a moment, Susan realized that she had used her own mother’s what’s-wrong-with-you voice.
She pulled her daughter into a hug and murmured, “I am sorry Keri. I am so sorry Sweetheart.”
When they were again leaning back against the pillows, Susan said, “We all make mistakes Keri, and mistakes are not wrong. Knocking over your milk was just a mistake.”
Keri tentatively asked, “Lamp?”
The only sound was the ticking of Keri’s cartoon clock, as Susan struggled with an answer.
Finally, she said, “Hitting the lamp was not wrong either, Sweetheart, but you have been told not to dance in the living room, and that was wrong. Do you understand?”
But her daughter’s head was back against the pillow, her eyes half closed.
Soon after, Susan was pacing the living room, wondering why her own mother would use that tone voice.
She suddenly stopped, as she thought, “Mom wanted me to feel badly about what I had done; but why?”
And then she knew: “If Mom could make me feel badly enough, then I would not do it again.”
Susan's laugh was bitter, as she thought, “That voice only did half of the job. I certainly felt awful, but it did not stop me from making mistakes. And it made me angry.”
At breakfast the next morning, Susan again talked with Keri about mistakes not being wrong.
Later, while making the bed, she suddenly realized: “I have been using that voice on my husband!”
A crash came from the kitchen. Susan ran and found Keri standing over a broken dinner plate; it was one of the good ones.
Looking up at her mom, Keri sounded hopeful, as she asked, “Mistake?”
Susan clenched her teeth, stifling the witch’s voice.
She took a breath and said, “Yes Sweetheart, it was a mistake. After we clean up, I will show you some dishes that you can play with.”
Later that evening, Susan turned off the TV for the third time; she was waiting for her husband. She wanted to tell him about ‘the voice,’ but was not sure how.
Finally, she heard the grind of the garage door. As he climbed out of the car, Susan was there pulling him into a hug.
Dropping his briefcase, he said, “Wow. Did I just return from a really long trip?”
When she did not let go, he asked, “Is Keri okay?”
She smiled into his neck and said, “Keri is fine.” She added, “Everything is fine, except for the Witch’s Voice.”
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