Are you a wallaby? Meerkat? Flamingo? Floppy-eared goat? Capybara? Three-toed sloth? Cotton-top tamarin? Vampire bat? Honey badger?
I ask Esmé how school went today. “What was the best part?”
“Recess!” comes the predictable answer.
“What did you do during recess?” I ask.
“We played hyenas. I was the hyena, and one boy was a dog, and the other boy was a cat,” she replies. “Hahahahahahahahahahahah…”
I’ve begun to feel more and more understanding of Calvin. No imaginary tiger friend has she, though. She IS the imaginary tiger.
A very good one, I must say. She takes on the animal-of-the-day’s traits: sounds, dietary preferences, modes of locomotion. She’ll be a seal one day, a sea lion the next, with a distinct understanding of the differences.
She’s only six, people say. That is normal behavior for six.
At school they are not so lenient. Recess isn’t a problem, I think, but during class, the crawling on the floor or licking out of a bowl, not to mention the animal-speak, could be distracting. Normal behavior in Kindergarten, perhaps, we are told, but not expected of 1st graders. 2nd graders. 3rd graders.
You can’t easily instruct the child to pack her alter-ego into her backpack so it doesn’t distract her from her “important” work.
(Yes, she is an authentic kitty-cat on the very day we’re discussing grade acceleration with the principal.)
(Yes, she had a partial-day suspension in Kindergarten for beating up two boys while role-playing as a wild mustang. And learned an important lesson that you need to take responsibility for your alter-ego’s actions.)
Which leads me to the critical questions:
What careers exist for animal impersonators?
Can she make a living at this?
Meanwhile, in the jungle, the mighty jungle, the lion sleeps tonight.