In two years, she hasn’t missed a Spirit Day: Pajama Day, Wild Hair Day, Hippie Day, Wacky Hat Day, Crazy Moustache Day — a sea of sartorially silly days. (She’s at an outlying horizon of extroversion, and when there is a contest and prizes involved, monomaniacally competitive. She is, in both these ways, precisely my opposite… and so I find both qualities fascinating and bizarre and glorious, like the beatific face of the recently-discovered Lesula, or the delicate, lethal beauty of carnivorous flowers.)
This week brought Dress Like a Teacher Day, which was a poser: what sort of schmuck subjects their seven-year-old to a day of pantsuits or business casual? I briefly considered outfitting her with an “ON STRIKE: FAIR CONTRACT NOW!” placard and slam-dunking the whole contest, but scrapped it for fear of putting the entire school at risk of crossing her one-child picket line.
So we did this:
Disturbing Item 1: Excepting the boots, those are all items from my closet that I wear with some regularity, and that — far from the “little person in grown-up clothes” look I was seeking — look to fit her appallingly well. Even the shirtdress. Even the belt. (Outcome: she loved it; how often does a little girl get to wear Mama’s clothes to school? And she was photographed for the yearbook, and earned a prize. Our work is done.)
Disturbing Item 2: All the art direction that went into the above photo was me snapping, “Okay, be a teacher!” The theatricality and authoritarianism are 100 percent, innately Child 1 (and the ready delight in playing her sidekick and comedic foil so explicitly Child 2), and so fantastically distinct from my own nature.
She is my reminder that children are not an act of reproduction — little I’s and Our’s recreated in our image — but essentially one of production… of an altogether singular personality.