Lydia held her doll out in front of herself at arm’s length and looked at it sternly.
I watched her for several seconds, frozen that way, looking at her doll. I glanced at Clara and saw that she was watching Lydia as well. We shared a confused expression and looked back at Lydia.
“What are you doing, Lydia?” I said finally.
Without looking away from her doll she said, “Me?” As if there was another Lydia hiding somewhere in the car. “I’m having a staring contest with this doll.”
“A staring contest,” I said. It wasn’t even a question, just a statement of the fact. I really should have known that my weirdo daughter was having a staring contest with her doll.
A few seconds later, Clara found the words to add to her own bewilderment, “You’re going to lose you know.”
Lydia’s eyes were beginning to twitch in the corners. “Maybe.” She squinted and leaned forward in her seat. She seemed to be growling. The little plastic child shook slightly in her balled up fists.
“It’s a doll, Lydia.” Clara reminded her.
Lydia ignored this. She was focussed intently on the face of the doll. She leaned even closer, and as she did the doll seemed to tremble even more and lean away.
“Why are you doing this?” I asked.
“Because I can,” she said, her eyes now widening into intimidating disks of shivering white. Then with even greater conviction, “Because I can win!” she hissed through clenched teeth.
Clara and I looked at each other again. This time the look we shared was one of concern. The girl had gone completely mad.
When we looked back, she was still bending towards the doll. Bending into it, arms shaking with intensity, bending, bending, bending over the little doll.
Suddenly, when it looked like Lydia’s eyes were about to burst, and she seemed just moments from either giving up or bursting into flames, I saw the doll’s long black eyelashes flickered as if caught in a breeze. Then slowly, ever so slowly, her eyelids began to move as she continued to be forced over backwards by her aggressive opponent. The eyelids floated down, down, down until they were just thin slits. Then with one final trembling, the left eye closed, followed a moment later by the right.
Lydia closed her pained eyes and cheered. “Yes! I won! I told you!” She tossed the doll baby into the air where it smashed its head against the ceiling of the car and then fell face down at the girl’s dangling feet.
We learned an important lesson that day, Clara and I. Never underestimate Lydia Grace. For she has stared down the impossible and saw them defeated. If she, as a child, can win a staring contest with a plastic doll, who knows what glorious achievements await her in the future. God help the impossible things that may attempt to stand in her way.