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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 15, Issue 1 (April 1, 1940)

The “Placid” One. — A Child's Troubles

The “Placid” One.
A Child's Troubles.

“Elsie was the easiest of my children,” said the proud mother of a grown-up family. “She never showed temper or answered back.”

“Yes, but Mother doesn't know, even now,” said Elsie to me, later, “how I used to feel at times, and what a lot of remarks I made inside myself. They all thought me a placid child who never minded being left out if there wasn't enough to go round—even if it was only a banana I missed through being at the shop when Cousin Emily arrived with fruit for us children. ‘Elsie doesn't mind, do you dear?’ said mother afterwards. ‘The next door children were here to play and, of course, it wasn't fair to give fruit to ours and not to them. I'll buy something for you, dear, next time I go to town.’ I didn't say anything, of course (not out loud!), until I got away to my hidey-hole behind the rhododendron bushes. A banana page 58 was a big thing to me in those days!

“And when an invitation came for Ada or me to go and stay with Auntie in Wellington! If only they hadn't discussed the possibility in front of me!—and then decided that Ada should go, as she was a year and a-half older (forgetting that she had had the last holiday), and that she could take my new coat which was a bit big for me (and I felt so proud of myself in that coat, and looked forward to wearing it to Sunday School) and my new pairs of socks that Grandma sent, and even my little blue bag, I remember! They were so sure that I wouldn't mind staying at home and lending my best things to Ada. But I wept gallons behind the rhododendron bushes; and nobody knew, so I didn't get any sympathy.

“And next time, again I was Mother's dear little girl, who was so easily pleased, and never made a fuss, and there were only two tickets for the circus, and Johnny and Bill were boys and so keen on animals. So ‘dear little Elsie’ stayed home, and hid once more in the rhododendron bushes, and said all sorts of naughty things under her breath and finally wept gallons.

“But as I could never bring myself to say anything in company, I've a reputation for placidity even to this day,” laughed Elsie.

“Of course, no one was ever actively unkind to me; but they just didn't realise that small things are often world-shaking to a child. That's what makes me so careful with my two boys. I'm so dead scared of hurting their feelings that everything has to be absolutely fifty-fifty between them. When Grand'ma sent Bob 5/- for Christmas, and only 3/6 for Alan because he was younger, I was very annoyed.”

Elsie's two boys are fine little chaps. There seems to be less friction between them than is the case in some families I know, where the parents, kind but unimaginative, could well take a leaf out of Elsie's book.