*Rewrite* Should you force a child to share

The next exercise was to rewrite the piece adding character details.  I’d love your feedback if you have thoughts.  Thanks!

“Ellie, share your toy with Susan. Good little girls share their toys.” Betsy watched her two-year-old little sister’s curls bob up and down as her face turn red and bottom lip stuck out in protest. At the same moment, her mom’s blue worn purse began vibrating. Betsy reached her hand to try and help by retrieving the phone.

“What do you think you are doing, Little Miss? You do not go in my purse.” Betsy backed away hurt and confused. She was just trying to help. She slumped in a corner with a library copy of The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe wishing she could visit new worlds through a magical wardrobe.

“Betsy is usually such a good little girl—quiet, obedient and always with her nose in a book. What more could a mom ask for?” Betsy cringed at the word little. 11 years old is far from little! To say it when they were alone was one thing, but did she have to call her Little Miss in front of her aunt?

“You don’t just take a piece of pizza from the middle. That’s selfish of you to take the biggest piece. You take the next one in the circle.” Betsy drew her feet under her as her finger tapped rhythmically trying to stop the familiar spinning in her head as her field of vision grew smaller. The pizza she was looking forward to moments before felt like rocks in her mouth.

Her mom had come into her bedroom a half hour ago, “Come on, Betsy. Dad is surprising the family with pizza. Let’s go pick it up.” Betsy rose and followed her mom obediently to the car, never mentioning that she needed to finish studying for a quiz tomorrow.

Later that night she made her way to the top bunk unsure of what made the crunching noise under her feet. She couldn’t avoid stepping on her sister’s clothes, books and toys that covered every inch of the floor. As she climbed the ladder, the familiar dread that haunted her each night coursed through her body on cue. It would be hours before the sun went down and sleep would come. She remembered she hadn’t finished studying for the quiz. She would have to fake sick tomorrow during Geography rather than explain to the teacher why it wasn’t done. Even though it was only 7:30 pm, getting up wasn’t an option. She knew what was expected of her and she knew what would happen if she didn’t obey.

Across the hall she overhead her mom telling her dad about their day. “Ellie is nothing like Betsy. They don’t look or act alike. Betsy always shared her toys so well. She is such an easy, compliant child. Maybe Ellie instinctively knows she’s a cutie pie. She always seems so confident and knowing her mind. It is exhausting trying to squelch that before it got out of hand.”

Betsy tossed in her bed and tucked her opinions and needs deeper inside where they would remain safe. She would be a good girl. She wouldn’t argue or talk back. Stay invisible. See what they might want and give them that -then maybe they would like her.


One Reply to “*Rewrite* Should you force a child to share”

  1. I like BOTH. Sorry! It’s hard without seeing them side by side. I would like a transition between paragraph three and four. It’s not clear that they’re sitting at a table eating pizza. Place me immediately, then when the pizza comment is made, I can hook into it. You retain the gut-wrenching sympathy we feel for Betsy. I wish she could just tell her mom, “No.”

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