Mrs. Belz had an interesting way about her. I wasn't scared of her, but I did feel I needed to act a certain way. I needed to be proper. I needed to be careful. I needed to be alert. All those things in a good way.
One of my first memories of spending time with Mrs. Belz was at her 80th birthday party. Eli was either a newborn or at home or both. That made going to a non-family member's birthday party possible since he was a horrible child from 9 months to oh, 6 years. Emma was little--4 or 5 years old. Grace was 3. Grace was too small to hold birthday cake on her lap, so I scooted her up to the table that held all 30 to 40 pieces of cake, made a little spot for her and gave her a piece. She and Emma were holding up well--no spills, no cries, no offenses that made people wonder if my children had been raised by wolves.
Until Grace finished her piece and reached for another. I pulled her hand back, pushed the cake back, explained that she had finished her piece and those were for other people. She became a sobbing mass of distress. Alert to the unraveling of my proper, careful image, I realized: she thought every one of those pieces was for her; and she was just getting started.
Now it was time to 1. preserve my dignity and 2. get control of my daughter. I don't know if either one worked. It didn't matter because Mrs. Belz came to the rescue:
"Well. I certainly understand her disappointment. I think she was really looking forward to my birthday party."