My four-year-old niece RubySue, LittleNiece’s big sister, is a very interesting child. I like to tell my sister she is payback for all the horrible things she did as a child. I can’t really REMEMBER her doing any horrible things, as she was a very shy and retiring child—and RubySue is not—but still, even at this advanced age, is it not a sibling’s job to torment their sisters and brothers?
The other night Grandma had RubySue and LittleNiece over to “visit” (read babysit) while my sister and her husband went to see their new grandbaby (my sister is younger than me. It’s the darn step-kids) and then go to a party. Now I believe I’ve mentioned my father’s addiction to Little House on the Prairie, which usually is not a detrimental thing for a normal child, but we are talking about RubySue here. Most children are imaginative, although by four they are usually able to distinguish their fantasies from reality. We aren’t so sure about RS. With her, they all sorta seem to meld together. And it doesn’t take much to get her going. She saw a picture of Dancing Daughter in her twirly green dress from last year’s Nutcracker performance, and that’s all it took to launch a 45-minute diatribe about her green dress and how it twirled, and how she danced on the stage, and all of her friends were there, but they were amazed at how well she danced and…. Well, you get the idea. ONE LOOK at the picture. That’s it. This year’s soldier costume didn’t impress her much, though. There was no yarn-spinning after seeing THAT picture. She’ll have her fantasies with a side order of girlie, please.
Back to Little House. My father and RS were watching the show together, and on this particular episode of Little House, there was a TWISTER. Not a twister, but a TWISTER. A TWISTER I’m telling you! A few minutes later, RubySue was hunkered down underneath the dining room table, hiding from the TWISTER that would be ripping through the house at any moment. No amount of coaxing would get her to come out. “I’m telling you, there’s a TWISTER coming,” she would reiterate, in a panicked voice, every time we tried to coax her out. “You people better get down here.” When the expected TWISTER did not materialize, she calmed down a bit, and launched into an explanation. The TWISTER was busy landing on the witch, so that’s why it hadn’t hit our home yet. Evidently, my sister has let her watch the Wizard of Oz.
Grandma wanted her out from under the table, so she told her in a stern voice (unusual for Grandma) that there were no TWISTERS in Utah. “Well, there was that one that ripped through Utah a few years back,” I helpfully pointed out. I was NOT my mother’s favorite child at that point, because that was all it took. RubySue was STAYING under the table, to avoid the TWISTER. But then she started talking about Toto. Since Stormy the Wonder Dog was sitting not far from her, watching the child with curiosity in his big eyes, I thought she was pretending he was Toto. It is best not to assume anything with RubySue.
“Is that Toto?” I asked.
“No!” she answered, with the most scorn and derision a four-year-old can frost on the top layer of a sentence. “That is YOUR stupid dog. Not Toto. Toto is my dog.”
“RubySue,” Grandma said, even more sternly. “You need to be nice, and you do NOT have a dog.”
“I do TOO have a dog. I have five dogs. They live in my basement, and when I get home I am going to go down to see them. And they have clothes, too. Lots of clothes. Sweaters, and dresses and clothes. All kinds.”
Quite unlike Stormy the Wonder Dog, who only sports a Petsmart bandana. How UNCOOL is that? Poor deprived STWD.
“You do NOT have five dogs,” Grandma said.
“Yes I do. And they are in my basement, and I will see them when I get home.”
At this point, RubySue is still hunkered under the table, waiting for THE TWISTER.
My mother looked at me, and said, “That child needs to exist a little more in this world.”
I personally find her fascinating. She can spin a story like no other, and it’s not like she is lying. Somewhere, in some alternate RubySue Universe, there is probably a TWISTER about ready to strike, wiping out Laura and Mary Ingalls, and the Wicked Witch of the West, in one fell swoop. Maybe we could throw Barney the purple dinosaur in for good measure.
Lest you think my mother cruel and insensitive, she is not. She listens to HUNDREDS of these stories every time she has my niece, who by the way, is rather anti-social, does not look people in the eye (although she is getting better), and summarily throws anyone out of the family who does not please her. Instead of “Off with her head,” it’s “YOU ARE OUT OF MY FAMILY.”
When my sister was out of town, and RubySue was being particularly disagreeable to her grandmother who was caring for her–and she was also being a little turd to her other cousins, who were visiting–I took her up to her room, and sat her on her bed, letting her know in NO UNCERTAIN terms that she could OUT-OF-THE-FAMILY-me all she wanted, I was not giving in. She could either be nice, and speak nice to others, or sit in her room.
“No, I can’t. I can’t. There are DEMONS in here. DEMONS. Big black ones. And they took my family. I want my FAMILY back.”
I relented a little bit at this point, understanding that in RubySue’s world, some demons probably DID take off with her family, since her father and mother were in Washington, D.C., attending a memorial service for my brother-in-law’s brother. In her world, the demons DID mess with her routine and her whole life was in upheaval. But I told her that she had to be nice, and speak nice, to everyone, unless she wanted to go to bed. She did not want to go to bed. There were those big, black demons….
So she was somewhat agreeable for the rest of the evening. Except for the part where she explained how her uncle died in that motorcycle accident and his head popped RIGHT off. That didn’t bother me quite as much as it did my mother. I write suspense, remember? (Note: Her uncle did die in a horrible motorcycle accident, but I never heard anything about his head popping off.)
So, that’s RubySue. Writer in the making, or the next George A. Romero? You tell me. Anyone else have a relative, or child like this one?