1. relating to, occurring on, or involving one side only: unilateral development; a unilateral approach.
2. undertaken or done by or on behalf of one side, party, or faction only; not mutual: a unilateral decision; unilateral disarmament.

My niece is 11 years old. My elder sister who bore said niece has done her level best to raise her as the girly-girl princess she is not exactly turning out to be.

It all started with a little matter of control. My niece, let’s call her Emily, wants it and my sister, her mother, possesses it. My sister has presided over every decision of that child’s life. However, now, Emily would like to have a say in these decisions, thank you very much, and my sister is not reacting well.

The Incident: upon going to the salon the day before Easter, my sister told the stylist the kind of haircut she would like Emily to have. This ended in Emily having six inches cut off her noggin resulting in a perfectly lovely bob.

Now, I have to interject for some back-story here. My sister is married into this Viking-Nordic family from Minnesota and to say they are reserved is to say they are Steven Wright to my family’s Sam Kinison. This side of the family is where we all assume Emily gets her quiet disposition from. However, I pointed out 5 years ago that this child does possess one half of our family’s whack-job genes, so my sister best be prepared for that gene pool to sprout a fountain. My sister, unwisely, ignored my advice.

To continue, Emily went nuclear-crazy. You see, the bob, while cute, doesn’t allow her to put her hair in a ponytail or pig-tails anymore which is rather a pain in the ass when you’re playing soccer or softball. More to the point, she felt that her mother ought to have consulted her before making this decision. Her mother obviously disagrees. After a very traumatic, and I gather loud, confrontation at the salon, neither have spoken to each other since. That was almost a month ago.

My sister called me terribly confused at Emily’s reaction. She wants Emily to apologize for the outburst and Emily wants my sister to admit she was wrong. Neither has any intention of budging. The stubbornness, that comes from my family too.

Trying to talk my sister down from the ledge, I told her she was practicing abject Easter Dress Unilateralism and given family history, she ought to know better. From her silence, I could tell she forgot all about The Easter War of 1983.

When we were younger, my mother would pick out a Christmas and Easter dress for my sister and I from the JC Penney catalog. Unfortunately, they matched, or at least they did until my sister (4 years older than I) put her foot down at the age of 12 and the task then fell to us. We would mark the pages and mom would order the dresses.

When I was 10, I ordered a very smart and classy, red tank dress for Easter. It came with a matching white jacket with a small lapel flower and short sleeves. It had a black belt at the waist and the material had a small white dot pattern. I was so proud at ordering this dress, you can imagine the surprise when a powder-blue, white polka-dot monstrosity with puffy sleeves, a white sailor collar, and flounced skirt arrived at our door.

Apparently the dress I wanted was back-ordered and instead of consulting me, my mom ordered the other, which I vehemently refused to wear. A small war rivaling the British actions in the Falkland Islands ensued. Gunfire erupted, battalions marched forward, and I am sad to say, innocents were injured. Long story short: I wore the dress but it was buried beneath the white-puffy-duffel-coat I refused to wear from the previous winter when the same thing had happened then as well. It was sunny and 78 degrees outside. That ought to give you a gauge of the military tensions between my mother and I.

My sister initially dismissed the history lesson until I reminded her that she wore that dress as a Shirley Temple Halloween costume no less than three times in high school.

Last I heard, my sister and Emily are back on speaking terms.

I’m the Aunt on the UN Security Council of Transnational Disputes and Family Warfare. This is my job.