Being the youngest child in a family isn’t always easy. Isabella’s siblings were quite a bit older than she. Closest in age to Isabella was her sister Julia, who was five years older. (Click on the image below to see Isabella’s brother and sisters.)
In her memoirs, Isabella described herself as possessed of a temper “that was easily set aflame,” and that temper was often directed at Julia.
Once during an argument, Isabella hotly declared:
“I don’t love you a bit! And I won’t live here with you anymore. I’ll go to Aunt Ibbie’s house and live there until you go to bed!”
“Well, joy go with you,” Julia calmly replied, which only increased Isabella’s temper.
“Joy shall not! I’ll go alone!”
Her mother heard the argument from the next room and said, “Poor child! I’m afraid you are right. Joy never goes with people who are naughty.”
Isabella writes that the tone of her mother’s voice—sadness mixed with tenderness—touched her deeply. She also realized that Joy—whoever he or she was—never went anywhere with naughty people.
It was one of the first lessons she remembered from her childhood about controlling her temper, but it wouldn’t be her last. Isabella wrote lovingly about her mother and the careful way she helped Isabella learn to manage her willfulness. And after the incident with Julia, Isabella resolved to never again hear the sadness in her mother’s voice over her naughty behavior.
You can read previous posts about Isabella’s childhood: