Pen and Angie Get Fighting Mad
Several weeks passed uneventfully. Then one morning at breakfast, Mom said, "Pen, I got a call from your dance teacher today."
"Uh-oh," said Pen.
"Uh-oh," Angie echoed, knowing her sister's habits of misbehaving in school and lessons.
"Uh-oh is right," Mom said. "Miss Perkins said you told her she was stupid and you stuck out your tongue at her. Is that possible, Pen? You actually stuck out your tongue at your teacher?"
"She was acting stupid," Pen said, pushing her chin out stubbornly.
"Never mind that, young lady," Dad stepped in. "She can be as stupid as cement. She's still your teacher and you're still to show her respect."
"Why?" Pen asked angrily. "No one respects me when I'm stupid. I get yelled at, told I'm dumb, or sent to my room."
"She's the teacher, that's why," said Dad. "If she's the teacher, she's right. It's simple as that."
"Why?" Pen insisted, turning to her mother.
"She's the adult, Pen. Just like your father said."
"That's stupid," Pen said, pouting. She got up, knocking over her chair, and stomped to her room.
When Angie went upstairs after dessert, she found Pen still stewing.
"You explain it to me, Angie. I knew I was acting kind of Greenlandish when I stuck out my tongue, and I am sorry about that, but still...why does Miss Perkins get to be stupid just because she's an adult?"
Angie agreed with her parents but she wasn't sure why. She tried to think it out and explain it to Pen, but she found that difficult to do. "It's because it matters who is who, Pen. It matters who is a teacher and who is a kid. The one who's the teacher is more...uh..important, I guess. What she says is supposed to be right."
"But teachers aren't always right, Angie. You know that. I admit I shouldn't have been rude like a Redlander, or Green Land childish, but why do I have to say she's right just because she's the teacher? She said I was bothering Kennie by blowing my whistle, and I wasn't. It was a lie. Maria Patulo was whistling through her fingers. It wasn't me."
"Oh," said Angie.
"So........why? Why do I have to say she's right just because she's the teacher?"
"I don't know," Angie said, shaking her head. "I guess it's good just to accept things."
"No," Pen said. "Not me. No way."
The next day, Angie got mad at her father, though only in her head. Angie was sitting in the back yard in the sun. She had just finished writing a poem in the green notebook she'd bought from her savings and was stretched out comfortably on a lawn chair reading a book about the Revolutionary War days. Her father called to her from the house. "Ange, come help me with something."
"Okay," Angie said, but then she didn't go right away because she was at the part of the story where Paul Revere was riding and she couldn't put it down.
A few minutes later, her father called again. "Angie, hurry up, because I want this done right away."
"Be right there," Angie called, intending to go. But she had only three paragraphs left in her chapter and she couldn't stop until she'd read them.
Two minutes passed and her dad charged into the back yard, his hands on his hips. "What's the matter with you, young lady?" he demanded to know.
Angie sat up. "I'm sorry," she said. "I was just finishing my chapter. I'm done now."
"When I say 'come,' you come," her father said. "Right away, not in ten minutes."
"Yes, sir," Angie said sheepishly, hanging her head. Inside she felt ashamed but she was also mad. She couldn't understand why she wasn't allowed to finish her story. He made her wait all the time. She waited if she needed a ride, or needed help with her homework, or needed something to eat. Why couldn't he wait for her just one time? She knew it was because he was a grown-up and she was a kid. That was the reason but it just didn't feel right.
Angie helped her father carry a large bookcase he wanted moved into his study. The whole time she was doing it, her face was as blank as a white wall. After they were done, Dad said, "All right now, we're done. You can go back to your book."
But Angie didn't feel like reading anymore. She felt like running. She felt like getting away from the house. She found Pen in the attic where she was trying on some old dress-up clothes.
"Look, Angie, I'm a Queen," Pen said.
"I'm going to the playground," Angie said, a little snappishly, not stopping to admire Pen's costume. "Are you coming?"
"Sure," Pen said and immediately she began pulling off the dress-up clothes.
"Hurry up," Angie said. "I'm not waiting all day."
"Okay, okay," said Pen. "Hold your horses." Pen got ready as quickly as she could and the two girls went out the front door.
Angie let the screen door bang shut behind her. She took off running. "Bet you can't catch me," she yelled to Pen, who couldn't keep up.
Pen got to the park, out of breath, two or three minutes after Angie. Angie by then was at the very top of the dome, standing up. She looked down at Pen and chanted, "I'm Queen of the Castle and you're the dirty Rascal." Angie hadn't said that childish rhyme to anyone for years.
"No, you're not," Pen said, starting to scramble up the dome.
"Yes, I am," Angie said. She stuck out her tongue. "Nah Nah-nah Naah Naah".
Pen got to the top but was afraid to stand up. "I'm Queen of the Castle and you're the dirty Rascal," she yelled at Angie, while still holding tight with both hands.
"No you're not. I am. I'm taller," Angie said.
"You're not," said Pen.
"Am too. And another thing, if that boy Jerome was here now, I'd knock his stupid block off."
"No you wouldn't, Angie," Pen said, sitting down on top of the dome. "We decided that was dumb."
"So what," Angie said stubbornly. "I don't care what's dumb. It's right if I say it's right, because I'm important."
Pen looked at Angie carefully to try to figure out what was wrong with her sister. After a while she started quietly chanting, "Green Land, Green Land, Angie's been to Green Land," while she made funny, baby faces.
"Huh?" Angie asked.
"Green Land, Green Land, baby land baby land."
Angie cocked her head to the side, puzzled. Then a slight smile came across her face and she nodded her head. "Green Land! Baby Land!" she yelled, pointing both thumbs at herself and laughing.
Laughing with Pen about acting babyish made Angie feel a little better, but when she got home she was still angry at her father for thinking he was more important than she was. She was also beginning to feel confused. She had told Pen to accept her teacher's word even if her teacher was wrong. Accept it because she's the teacher, Angie had advised Pen. So she should accept her father telling her to come when she's called, even though he often made her wait. She should accept it just because he's the parent and she's the child. Right? So why didn't she feel like accepting it? Why did she feel mad and feel like bossing people around? She thought of asking Pen's opinion but Pen was the little one and Angie the big one, so how could Pen know more than she? That wasn't the way it was supposed to work. Was it?