When my daughter Mia was young, one of her favorite books was Lily’s Purple Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes. I loved this book, too, because the little mouse Lily was so much like Mia. Lily was a feisty fashionista with an exuberance for life that couldn’t be contained and sometimes got her into trouble.
There was a line in the story repeated by various characters. “‘Wow,’ said [someone]. That was just about all [that person] could say.”
“Wow” described Mia’s attitude about life. Everything was an exciting adventure. Whatever I suggested, Mia was front and center. Did she want to run errands with me? Oh yes, that was her favorite thing to do. Whenever I told her what we were having for dinner, she would shout with glee that it was her favorite food, even if she had never tried it before.
Before Mia joined our family, I had shopped in the same little grocery store for several years without knowing anyone there. After Mia came along, she quickly made friends with everyone who worked there, as well as any number of random shoppers on any given day. I would find her helping Eddie stock the shelves in the dairy section, or chatting up some shopper in the produce section.
One evening after a busy day at kindergarten, Mia excitedly told me that she had seen the principal putting on her lipstick. I thought it was odd that the principal was walking around the school applying makeup. On further inquiry, Mia explained that she had been sent to the principal’s office as a consequence for her inability to keep her hands out of Marissa’s long hair during story time. I detected no remorse. The principal and I had a good laugh the next day as we discussed the effectiveness of this consequence for Mia’s misbehavior.
Mia coveted Marissa’s long hair. Impatient with the slow growth of her own hair, Mia improvised. She took a large pink T-shirt and stretched the neck around her head like a headband so that the T-shirt hung down her back. She became an expert stylist. The T-shirt could be put up in a bun or a ponytail, or (I’m not kidding) braided. One day as she was headed off to the mall with her grandmother, she was draping the T-shirt over her shoulders like shiny tresses shimmering on a shampoo commercial. “Will everyone think I have long hair?” she asked me, looking momentarily doubtful. “No,” I said smiling. “Everyone will think you have a pink T-shirt on your head.” She paused, eyeing me suspiciously. Then, with a final flip of the T-shirt, she said confidently, “No, they won’t.” And off she skipped, laughing and holding her grandmother’s hand.
“Wow,” I said. That was just about all I could say.
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