By Mary Beth

Written a month ago but not posted.

We are coming to terms with the fact that, if Cora ruled the world, she would be a dictator – cut from the mold of a novel like 1984.

She started off with sound, reasonable edicts. If I made one of her toys hit another toy (just to make things more interesting), she would frown at the offending toy and shout, “Tib! Tib!”

Cora can’t quite master the ‘cr’ sound of ‘crib’ so she says ‘tib’. Cora herself is exiled to her crib several times per day, most days, for deliberate infractions such as purposely upending a cup of water onto the floor, smashing her sister’s carefully-constructed house built out of magnetic blocks, shoving or hitting her sister, etc. She doesn’t like it but she has accepted it as a routine part of life. That is what happens when you are bad. Sometimes she preemptively shouts “Tib!” when she has been badly behaved and expects to be exiled. And when she comes out of her Tib, no matter what she has done, she runs over to her sister and says “Sorry Annie! Sorry Annie!” and looks as contrite as she is able to look, while aggressively hugging her sister. Which her sister hates.

Needless to say, her toys share the same fate when they misbehave. Except that when Cora does the banishing, there is no end to the banishment. It is permanent. No amount of repentance or regret or begging or tears on the part of the toy will sway her. Nothing will cause her to reconsider. If I make the toy cry and promise never to do it again, she will stare at the weeping toy in stony-faced silence for a moment, and then repeat, “Tib!”

A badly-behaving character in a book will be convicted likewise. A grumpy truck, a pirate, a frog wreaking havoc in a restaurant, a tiger threatening to eat someone up – Cora will point at the picture and shout “Tib! Tib!”

“Yes, that frog should go to its crib,” I agree. “Now, what’s happening in this picture?”

“In a sackaphone!” she will say in horror, pointing at the frog jumping into a saxophone. “TIB! TIB!”

But lately, the list of imprisonable offences is getting longer. It is not just reprehensible behaviors now – certain emotions merit banishment as well. Initially it was just anger – someone in a book was angry (sometimes unjustly, but sometimes with good reason), and Cora shouted “Tib! Tib!”

But now she is sentencing anyone who is feeling sad, who is crying, or who is feeling fearful. A girl in her book is crying? “TIB!” A neighborhood cat looked at Cora askance and then ran away, when she advanced on it, saying “T’mere tat!”? TIB! TIB! A little boy is getting bullied by another little boy in a book? TIB for both of them! The boy looks sad and that is not admissible! A man in a magazine looks sad to Cora (but not to anyone else)? TIB! Happiness is the only acceptable emotion!

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