Children are such vexing creatures because they are half angel, half demon. And whose job is it to stamp out the demon and bring forth the angel? The mother’s, of course. There’s no one better suited for it. She provides that key, righteous influence.One of the most important demonic urges we mothers work against is sadism, which is deriving pleasure from watching someone else suffer. For example, when I tell my five-year-old daughter that she will be first to choose a prize, she sometimes asks her younger sister, “Which one do you want?” My unsuspecting three-year-old points out her favorite, and my five-year-old promptly takes it. Of course, this is followed by weeping and wailing, which my five-year-old enjoys. My five-year-old also really enjoys it when her little sister is put in time out. She gleefully exclaims, “I’m the good one! She’s the bad one!” And whenever she sees me sweating and groaning through a round of push-ups, she jumps on my back.I know it’s normal for my child to be a bit sadistic, but sometimes I hear mothers tell about something empathetic and sweet their children have done, and I do feel a little discouraged. Are my children unusually demonic? Where do they get it from?Last week I headed out to story time after an especially difficult morning in which my children enjoyed watching me suffer. I arrived feeling weary and miffed and was glad to find a good friend to sit by. My friend informed me that her little boy had tortured her all morning. As she was getting ready for the day and was about to stick a contact in her eye, he flipped the light out. Despite her instructions to the contrary, he did so over and over and over. Finally, she locked him out of the bathroom where he kicked, screamed and banged on the door while she finished getting ready. My friend confided she sometimes wanted to put her son in daycare and get a regular job. As I listened to her vent, my cloud of bad feelings evaporated. Unfortunately, there in its stead was a naughty demon dancing and singing, “Her kid was worse than yours!” Dang it! I thought I’d stamped him out! I was trying so hard to lend a concerned, sympathetic ear, but he was just too powerful. He kept right on celebrating and succeeded in plastering a great big grin on my face.