The Bad-Influence Boltons

Ali has been irritated with me lately. I can kinda see her point, but she was overreacting a bit. Or so I thought.

Maddie has been tying knots in her hair as a form of self-soothing. It’s not that uncommon a habit. The problem lies in getting the knots untied. Being an expert knot-tier myself, I showed her how to properly tie a knot that she could then untie with minimal breakage to her hair. I was quite happy with myself for having passed on the knowledge that took me years to develop. And then Ali texted me: Maddie is ripping out her hair, and you need to fix it.

Of course, a little hair rippage goes along with learning to untie knots properly, so I didn’t think much of it. When she said Maddie had completely ruined one side of her hair with the knots, I thought she was exaggerating. And then I saw Maddie.

Maddie’s hair on the left side is about half the length of the right side. It’s kinda bad. But still, I don’t think I am to blame. I tried to teach her the proper way to tie and untie knots. She just didn’t listen. Ali insists on my culpability, saying I encouraged the habit and that it is my responsibility to get her to stop. Obviously that’s not going to happen. I’m a 42-year-old who still ties (and unties) knots in her hair.

So, Ali was already irritated with me, and then my sister Brooke topped me. She taught Maddie to smoke. Not intentionally, of course. Maddie caught Brooke smoking and asked questions. Brooke explained the process, clarifying Maddie’s misconceptions, and when she started the “It is very bad for you” lecture, Maddie galloped off. In her defense, I have to say Maddie is intimidating when she wants to know something. She looks at you with an intensity that could get a seasoned spy to talk. Securing our fears, Maddie came back long enough to ask Brooke if she was a bad girl, with a certain twinkle in her eye. Now I’m responsible for Maddie’s future smoking habit too.

Our girls are a challenge each in her own way, and I am happy to do my part in raising them to be strong, independent, and good global citizens, without addictions (other than coffee) or self-mutilating habits. But I want it to be known for the record: it’s not my fault!