Two stories.

Over Christmas Rowan received a "craft kit" with lots of little pieces. As she started to open it up to get a closer look at everything, the person whose house we were at, and who I suspect didn't want lots of little pieces getting strewn around, said nervously, "You'd better ask your mom about that... ." Before I had a chance to reply, R said blithely but reasonably, "Oh, it's my present," as if the person was simply confused as to whom the present belonged. Because why else would someone act as if another person didn't have the right to do with her gift what she wished?

*

I've been organizing. R has a lot of clothing that she has grown out of or just won't wear, so I was asking her what we needed to weed out. She pointed to a couple of things that I love, and I said, "Oh, but these are so cute!" "No," she said, "they don't feel good, and besides they're too big." Cajoling, I said, "But maybe once you've grown into them you'll change your mind." She paused as if to consider whether I had a point, then said brightly, "Mama, you can have them!" She'd figured out that the issue was really that I was attached to the clothes, so clearly the solution should be that I should keep them for myself.

*

Both times her reaction delighted me. This is not the reaction of a person who has learned from past experience that she is supposed to indiscriminately regard older people as authority figures and to interpret their interactions with her as something to be defensive or annoyed about. I was delighted because I immediately had a vision of how she might have reacted instead, how I've reacted, how I've seen so many people act, and I was struck by the meaning in the difference. She is innocent of those things because her personhood has always been respected and protected. She didn't try (didn't feel the need) to fight, either time. She was simply reasonable. Such a simple, seemingly small thing. Yet it is exactly how a peaceful life is made, and what it is made up of.