After dropping off the older girls at school, I discovered Ingrid reading 20,000 Leagues to Dagne, cuddled in bed. Such a picture is dear to any mother’s heart, but mine deserves extra print, laudible because it occurred after many long months of warring and irritability.

How many times has Dagne expressed exasperation over Why can’t Ingrid and I get along? How many times have I heard the echoes rise up from the basement of Ingrid losing her temper over some unkept promise, exclusion, or injustice imposed upon her by her little sister?

I had given it up that it must be due to the spoiling that so naturally occurs with the youngest ones. Though I intended to never excuse my children’s behavior because of birth order, I often overlooked the bickering and arguing simply because I was too tired and overwhelmed to exert myself.

But I sensed there was another cause and stumbled upon a truth. The bickering that disturbed by domestic felicity was more due to the system of living to which we had succumbed than any personality flaws or defects in discipline.

I have related the turnaround in Ingrid’s personality, which could be attributed to more sleep and less pressure. This happy fortune of the two of them agreeably playing together without discord I attribute to similar changes. Both of them have blossomed individually, no doubt, but this gestalt of sisterly relations is a welcome surprise.

I cannot say that their education is much different than at school — we read, we write, we do arithmetic. What I can say is that we have eliminated a rushed morning, long hours, a great deal of noise, playground cruelty, and instituted more motherly affection and digestible food.

With the changes of these variables, I have the pleasure of seeing my two daughters take pleasure in each other’s amiable company.

An aside: is there such an offense as too much Pride and Prejudice?

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