It was a battle of wills -- the rough, tough baby boomer pitted against the spoiled 4-year-old -- and no one was sure who would come out the victor or "bictor."

It was a battle of wills -- the rough, tough baby boomer pitted against the spoiled 4-year-old -- and no one was sure who would come out the victor or "bictor."

The Sunday after Valentine's Day, I was thrilled to hear my mother climb out of bed and head to the kitchen to start the coffee brewing.

On the previous night, the entire family went out to celebrate St. Valentine's Day with dinner and a visit to the hospital.

That morning, at 9:30, I called my second-born nephew Carl to tell him we were all going to Marietta for dinner and that he and Tereza should join us. My 4-year-old great niece, Lynnelle, or Nosey Nellie as she is often called, was the primary reason for the family gathering.

When I visited the farm in January, Nellie conned me into the dinner.

"Aunt Cat," she said, in her whiney, little-girl voice, "when are you going to take me on bacation or a ressaurant so I can wear my new dress?"

She referred to the red velvet and lace dress I got her for Christmas.

The children in the family know that when they receive dressy attire, it will not be long before we go out on the town, be it vacation or a restaurant.

Then on Feb. 13, I called to tell my sister-in-law that I would not be down that evening because I was waiting on return calls, but dinner was still planned for Valentine's Day. Hearing my voice on the speaker as Cecilia searched for a missing portable phone, Nellie spoke up.

"Aunt Cat, are you coming to take me to Balentine's?" she asked, using B instead of V.

She wasn't sure what "Balentine" was, but it meant getting dressed up and going out.

"Funny you should ask," I said, "that is exactly why I am calling."

"Yeah!" she squealed, not waiting for the answer. "My Aunt Cat is taking me to Balentine's."

It was definite, so I called Carl and got a surprise of my own.

"Actually, we are at Marietta Memorial," he said. "They just gave Tez an epidural. The doctor says the baby will be here by 5 p.m."

"Wow, some people will do anything to get out of dinner with the family," I said. "We will probably all stop by before going out."

The whole family crowded into the birthing room, placing bets on the time of the latest addition's arrival and his weight.

"Aunt Cat," Nellie interrupted after about 30 minutes, "can we go to lunch now?"

"Lunch?" I said, laughing. "Didn't your daddy feed you today?"

We left for dinner and returned in time for the birth of my brother's eighth grandchild.

Afterward, the four oldest children wanted to spend the night with me.

Bubby sacked out on the couch and 10-year-old Raqueal, 7-year-old Heather and Nellie piled into my bed.

Having a sleepover in Columbus would not have been so bad since I have a king-size bed there, but it was cramped in the regular-size bed at the farm.

We slept across the bed and my legs hung off the side all night, so I was eager to rise.

Bubby was the first of the children to stir. Raqueal was next and the leggy child tried in vain to slip into my lap as I sat in the rocking chair. Then Nellie rose and easily curled up in my lap.

As Heath-er slept, Bubby anxiously gave Nellie the Valentine he made her the day before. She opened the card, took one look at the foil Spiderman Valentine and threw it on the floor.

"I don't want it," she said.

"What?" I shouted, incensed by her rude behavior. "You pick that up this instant and apologize to Bubby."

"I don't like Spiderman," she said, refusing to give in. "Where's my present?"

She was aware that I had given all of the other children in the family a red foil bag filled with candy, cookies, toys and clothes.

I marched into the bedroom got the gift out of the closet and sat it beside my rocker.

"I've got it," I said, "but you are not getting it until you pick up that Valentine and apologize to your cousin."

She dropped her head in a pout.

The battle of the wills had only begun. It lasted for the next four and a half hours.

"Oh, this is good," Allen, my brother, said when he came in and I told him what his granddaughter had done, "I'm not sure who is the most stubborn, Nellie or Sue."

Sue is one of my four middle names.

I would not have been astounded by Nellie's bad behavior if it had been directed at anyone else, but she adores Bubby. She trails around after him like a chick behind a hen.

Each time someone entered the house, I told them about her behavior, and each person scolded her, but she still she refused to pick up the Valentine and apologize.

Knowing that three other children were watching and waiting to see what would happen made it all the more important that Nellie submit.

Heather, who slept late and learned about the incident only because my voice was elevated, tried to get Nellie to see reason. The pot helping the kettle turn black.

Nellie tried to gain a reprieve from Bubby by whining, but I would not allow it.

I was coming out of my bedroom and saw Heather and Nellie with their two blonde heads together in my bathroom, right before they called for Bubby to join them.

"Oh, no you don't!" I said, suspicious of their behavior. "I know what you two are up to and it isn't going to happen."

My eldest nephew, Pork, walked in to hear my voice hit the eighth octave.

"What's going on now?" Mom asked.

"Heather and Nellie think they are going to have Bubby come into the bathroom and Nell can apologize without anyone else hearing, and it's not going to happen," I said. "She was certainly loud enough this morning when she threw her little tantrum, so now she can come out and apologize in front of God and everyone or she is not getting that present."

I left no room for discussion.

"I've learned something from this whole experience," I said. "The next time you behave like that, rejecting a gift given to you, I am going to pick you up and fan your backside, because it is obvious reasoning does not work well with you."

"I agree," Allen said. "I think you should have done that from the start."

Nellie could tell that none of the adults were willing to side with her.

"What would your father have done if he had been here?" Mom asked.

Nellie refused to answer, because she knew that my third-born nephew A.J., her dad, would have spanked her. Finally she said she was sorry and Bubby accepted the apology.

"It's good to see you've still got it, Sue," Al whispered, "but my money was on Nell."

Cathy Wogan is a staff writer for ThisWeek Community Newspapers.

Cathy Wogan