Dolores 'Lolita' Haze 12

Oh, she simply hated her daughter! What I thought especially vicious was that she had gone out of her way to answer with great diligence the questionnaires in a fool’s book she had (A Guide to Your Child’s Development), published in Chicago. The rigmarole went year by year, and Mom was supposed to fill out a kind of inventory at each of her child’s birthdays. On Lo’s twelfth, January 1, 1947, Charlotte Haze, née Becker, had underlined the following epithets, ten of forty, under ‘Your Child’s Personality’: aggressive, boisterous, critical, distrustful, impatient, irritable, inquisitive, listless, negativistic (underlined twice) and obstinate. She had ignored the thirty remaining adjectives, among which were cheerful, co-operative, energetic, and so forth. It was really maddening. With a brutality that otherwise never appeared in my loving wife’s mild nature, she attacked and routed such of Lo’s little belongings that had wandered to various parts of the house to freeze there like so many hypnotised bunnies. Little did the good lady dream that one morning when an upset stomach (the result of my trying to improve on her sauces) had prevented me from accompanying her to church, I deceived her with one of Lolita’s anklets. And then, her attitude toward my saporous darling’s letters!

DEAR MUMMY AND HUMMY,

Hope you are fine. Thank you very much for the candy. I [crossed out and re-written again] I lost my new sweater in the woods. It has been cold here for the last few days. I’m having a time. Love.

DOLLY

‘The dumb child,’ said Mrs. Humbert, ‘has left out a word before “time.” That sweater was all-wool, and I wish you would not send her candy without consulting me.’