When a mother’s anger wasn’t rewarded

This is a story I heard from my aunt – my mother’s elder sister – some time ago. She has three daughters, of which the two younger ones are a twin. They are all more than ten years older than me, so when I was old enough to have memories, they were already adults. But during one of our family gatherings, my aunt recounted a story about her twin daughters when they were three years old.

In Japan, when a girl reaches the age of three, the whole family celebrates her health and well-being by dressing her up in traditional clothes, visiting the local shrine and taking good family photos. When my twin cousins turned three, my aunt was a busy working mom, but she made the time to celebrate her little daughters’ milestone properly. On the day of celebration, she first dressed up the girls in beautiful traditional clothes, then moved on to her own preparation. Since it was a formal occasion, she needed to dress up properly herself.

When she was finally ready in her formal attire and full make-up, there was no sign of her twin daughters.

“Where are you my loves? We are going now!”

She opened the front door to check outside where she found her little girls playing in the mud, totally ruining the delicate traditional clothing. For a second, my aunt lost words in shock. Then her disbelief quickly turned into fury.

“What on earth are you doing? I clearly told you not to make yourself dirty!” My aunt shouted. “Until you tell me what you’ve done wrong, you are not allowed in the house!”

My aunt was so furious that she used the strictest words possible to teach the girls a lesson. But to much of her disappointment, the girls were not disturbed at all.

“Why is Mommy angry? Do you know?”

One of them asked the other with an innocent look on her face.

“I have no idea!” The other one replied. “Let’s go and play!”

And they went off, happily holding each other’s hand.

My aunt saw them off, went back inside the house and spent the afternoon recovering from the shock. Then she started to prepare dinner. But even when the dinner was ready, her little daughters didn’t come back home. She started to worry. But the declaration she had earlier made to them along with the mother’s pride stopped her from going out and calling them in for dinner. So, my aunt called her eldest daughter to her side instead.

“Honey, could you please go out and look for them? And tell me how they are doing.”

At this point, my aunt’s last hope was to hear some words of apology from her daughters for what they had done earlier. That would have been good consolation for her day’s effort that ended up in misery.

A few minutes later, her eldest daughter came back home with news.

“Mommy, I found them in the park. They were having a lot of fun on the swings!”

My aunt finally gave in. She called her daughters in for dinner. When the cheerful little girls marched into the house, my aunt asked them in a rather weak voice.

“So, do you now understand why I was angry at you earlier?”

The girls’ cheerful voice echoed in the room.

“No! Not at all!”

That was the end of it. My aunt understood how pointless it was to pursue this topic any further and decided to drop it altogether. It was a tearful day for the mother and another fun day for her little girls.