Monday, November 29, 2010

Two Girls and a Kitty Cat

“But I want to be a kitty cat,” Emma (age five) said.

I found this a little surprising. Usually Emma wants to be a sparkle unicorn. I looked at Zoe and Isabel (both six) to assess the degree that diplomatic negotiations had deteriorated in little girl world.

“Well that sounds like a lot of fun. I like to pretend I’m a kitty cat all the time, and then I take a nap on a rug in the sun.”

Zoe and Isabel ignored me. What I liked, wished, or wanted was pointless to the debate, that was obvious.

“But we want to play ‘three sisters,’ not ‘two sisters and a kitty cat,’” Zoe said. Her chin was lifted. Her arms crossed. Negotiations had reached the crisis point.

Isabel nodded and crossed her arms. I tried the bright side approach.

“But doesn’t ‘two sisters and a kitty cat’ sound like some fun.”

“No.” Zoe added a frown to her crossed arms.


“Because we always play ‘two sisters and a kitty cat.’ We want Emma to be a girl, not an animal.”

Emma moaned or maybe meowed.

“Because,” Zoe continued, “if Emma is a kitty cat then we have to chase her with nets and try to catch her.”

I could see their point. I hate when I have to chase my friends with nets. It’s fun for a couple of spins around the old track and field but before you know it, you’re dizzy and thirsty.

“But I want to be a kitty cat,” Emma said. She then began to groom herself with her tongue.

We were at an impasse—‘two sisters and a kitty cat’ is not ‘three sisters and no kitty cat,’ no matter how you slice the cat treats. Someone was going to be sad, mad, or disappointed. I was fresh out of win-win solutions for girl-world, so I retreated to grown up got-no-clue-world.

“Well, you girls work it out,” I said.

And that’s when Zoe lobbed a surface to air missile at a small South Korean island. NO! I’m kidding. Actually, I don’t know what happened. No punches were thrown. No screaming was overheard. No missiles were launched.

“Well, you girls work it out,” I had said.

And they did.

Somehow, someway, they did— without adult intervention. I wish I’d eavesdropped.

When I was a kid living in Titusville, our moms would kick us out of the house in the morning, throw PBJ sandwiches at us at noon, make us drink water out of the hose, and not let us come inside until the mosquito fog trucks rolled down Rose Marie Drive. We, the neighborhood kids, played hopscotch and Chinese jump rope like they were Olympic sports, snitched drywall chalk from construction sites, and played stickball until someone got mad or hurt. If you went inside you had to take a nap. No one went inside.

Parents were not consulted unless stitches were required.

The big kids were the bosses and the little kids were allowed to live and play, if we did it quietly and didn’t whine.

It wasn’t fair. It was life. It was good preparation for the world as it would be, not as we wished it could be. And we learned to work it out.

Zoe stomped into her grandfather’s home office frustrated with her five-year old cousin.

“Poppy, I just want Emma to be a regular girl and play with me.”

“What does Emma want?” he asked.

“To be a sparkle unicorn. Emma always wants to be a sparkle unicorn or a white seal.”

“Well, what should we do about that?”

Zoe batted her eyelashes.

“Poppy? Will you be a girl and come and play with me?”

“Sure. But why don’t we let Emma play too and be a sparkle unicorn?”


And they worked it out.

Linda (Regular Girl) Zern

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