Where I can help others.
Where I can relax.
Where I can feel safe.
Where I can explore.
“Stop that, Layla,” said Mother, as Layla’s mouth squirted out milk like a spout. “That’s not ladylike.”
Layla grinned at her mom, who was silently cleaning milk off the table.
Ayah shook her head as she colored on her menu. She remembered being told to be ladylike, and she knew her sister hated it just as much as she had. Nonetheless, Ayah knew she needed to show her younger sister how to behave. She quietly took a swig of her lemonade and swallowed it without spitting it out, which she might have done when she was Layla’s age.
“See, Layla?” she said. “This is the way big girls drink.” There was no way she would be caught saying “ladylike.”
Layla looked at her sister blankly and started banging on the wall.
“Now, Layla, that’s not ladylike either,” said their mom. She removed Layla’s sticky hands from the wall and started wiping the wall off with a napkin. Ayah rolled her eyes.
“Ayah, can you switch sides with us?” asked Mother. “I want Layla sitting away from the wall so she won’t bang on it or get it messy.”
“Sure, Mom,” said Ayah. Anything to get her little sister and her mom to stop embarrassing her!
As soon as they had switched sides and Layla was settled down in her new seat, she started banging her spoon against her milk glass.
“Layla!” exclaimed Mother. “Can’t you be ladylike for once? What am I going to do with you on a cloudy day like today if I can’t take you to restaurants?” Ayah covered her eyes. She wasn’t sure she could stand going to restaurants with Layla, especially if she had to keep hearing a stupid term like “ladylike.”
Layla scribbled on her menu, then started throwing the crayons. She laughed as one of them almost hit the waiter who had come to take their order.
“I am so sorry!” said Mother, clapping a hand over her mouth. “Layla, what did I tell you about throwing things? It’s not-”
“Nice to throw things at people,” Ayah finished. She was not going to hear the term “ladylike” a fourth time. Her mom looked at her in surprise, but when she spoke, it was Ayah’s turn to be surprised.
“Yes,” she said. “It is not nice to throw things at people. Tell the waiter you’re sorry.”
“I’m sorry,” said Layla, sweetly.
“Thank you,” said mother. They ordered their food. When it came, and after Mother moved the crayons to get rid of the clutter, Layla offered Ayah one of her French fries.
“No thanks,” said Ayah, since her sister had already put her hands all over her food.
“Aww, but Layla,” said Mother. “Sharing your food is very-”
“Nice,” Ayah finished.
“Yes,” said mother. “That is exactly what I was going to say.” She winked at Ayah, and Ayah had a strange feeling that her mother understood. She might even stop saying “ladylike.” Maybe going places with her family wasn’t so bad.