Dear Vicki: My daughter Lena is 16 years old and usually a very sweet tempered girl. She loves cooking, animals, and wants to be a nurse, so I’ve assumed she’s an Earth. But something happened over the holidays that made me wonder if she’s more Wood than I thought. My mother was with us for Christmas. Mom isn’t much into family, but she’s alone now so we cajoled her to come visit. She spent most of the time reading in her room with the door closed. Sweet Lena thought Grammy was lonely, so bent over backwards to include her in as many family events as possible. But Christmas morning, when Lena and her younger sister opened their gifts from Grammy, Lena’s was Mom’s copy of Wuthering Heights (which is one of her favorite books), but Julie’s was a beautiful gold bracelet that Dad had given Mom years ago and she never wore. Well, Lena flipped out over the whole thing (fortunately, not in front of Mom) in a way I’ve rarely seen – for days she acted like an angry, out of balance Wood. What happened and how do I prevent this in the future? Signed: Mortified Mom
Dear Mortified: First of all, remember that the holidays usually bring out the best and the worst in all of us. Second, remember that we all have all five elements in us. So while I agree that Lena probably is a primary Earth, she still has Wood energy, even if you don’t see it that often. Third, it’s worth noting that Lena’s Earth relates to Grammy’s Water via the Controlling Cycle. That means that at a deep level, Earths feel like it’s their “job” to manage the flow of Waters. I suspect that all three of these dynamics were unfolding in the background for you and your family over the holidays.
You ask what happened? Here’s the likely scenario. Whether your mother is a primary Water or not, she was acting like a Water while visiting you. Wanting to be alone and spending that time reading are characteristically Water. Lena is an Earth, and while the holidays are a special time for most people, they are especially important to Earths who love the increased opportunities to connect with friends and family. So when the family member staying with you chose not to connect but instead withdraw and read, it’s likely that Lena’s Earth went into overdrive trying to connect with Grammy. This excess state of Earth energy in Lena would have called up her own Wood energy to try to keep things managed (Wood controls Earth).
You don’t mention the elements of your other family members, but it sounds like none of you are Waters or Lena would have been more accustomed to the needs and behaviors of Waters and understood that Waters are rarely lonely when alone. This unusual presence of significant Water energy in your house could also have feed Lena’s Wood (Water feeds Wood), especially since Lena was trying very hard to interact with the Water (Grammy). The effect of this extra Water energy feeding Lena’s Wood combined with Lena’s own Wood response to manage her Earth could easily have created the sudden, exaggerated state of excess Wood you saw in Lena and her behavior.
Add to this abundant supply of Wood your mother’s act of apparent favoritism toward your younger daughter by giving her a more expensive gift, and Lena’s Wood would be upset at several levels. On the surface, if Lena had actively been showering attention on Grammy and trying to bring her into the family circle, it would seem unfair to reward these attempts with a lesser gift than her sister received. Woods hate unfairness; it’s a real button-pusher for them. At a slightly deeper level, if Lena was in a Wood place, she would have felt personally slighted by receiving an seemingly lesser gift because Woods need acknowledgement and to feel important. Lena’s Wood probably felt that her younger sister mattered more than she did, which as I said, will not sit well with a Wood.
So what can you do? By now, the holidays are over and I’m hoping that things have settled down, Grammy has returned home, and Lena is back to her sweet Earth self. But should this ever happen with Lena again, remember that it is Metal that controls Wood. Metals are very mental; logic and rationality are usually the tools they use to keep Woods in check. Over the holidays, you could have sat down with Lena and tried to help her understand the difference in the gifts. Perhaps the copy of Wuthering Heights was a treasured item for Grammy; one she’d read multiple times and now wanted to pass on to Lena. In your mother’s eyes, it might well have been the “better” gift. And of course, this is also the perfect opportunity to remind Lena that the true value of any gift is found in the love behind the giving, not in the worth of the item. Even an angry Wood will eventually understand that. Blessings to you and your whole family!