Mental Health Day
This morning Supergirl awoke glassy-eyed, groggy, and harboring a hacking cough. I could tell the cloud would lift and she would be fine if I sent her to school, but I thought I’d give the kid a break. Everyone deserves a mental health day from time to time and plus, if she stayed home, we’d have a little time to ourselves while Angel Baby was at pre-school. I stood over her at breakfast and decided to feel her out. Do you think you need to stay home from school today? Do you feel that sick? She nodded as she arranged her features into her best impersonation of a baleful street urchin and coughed feebly but incessantly into the crook of her elbow. Oh she’s good. Not over played. Nothing cartoonish about her portrayal of a sick girl. Workin’ those enormous eyes. Yep, she nailed it.
I felt her forehead for show, as I already had a plan for her little day of rest. If Supergirl stayed home, we could go to Galoony’s for steak and cheese subs before picking up Angel Baby from school. Hurrah for me – I love a partner in crime. My only stipulation was no TV for her – no computer for me. She nodded solemnly.
Lunch – what can I say about lunch? It was the best. I can’t remember the last time Supergirl and I had a meal by ourselves. Sitting in a two person booth enjoying our sodas, our conversation meandered in unexpected fits and starts – like a kid dizzy after spinning around in circles. Galoony’s has huge grafitti-inspired wall murals and that got us talking about grafitti. Why it can be bad, why it can be beautiful.
We talked about grafitti artists having to work in the dark, on the fly, with eyes in the back of their heads, always on the look out for the cops. So if it turns out really pretty, it’s worth it, she said. Not a girl who needs to be fed lines in black and white, I stepped into the gray with her. Absolutely. I happen to think so, anyway.
Then we played a couple rounds of build-a-man (incidentally, they no longer call it hang-man. Also banished from the playground of political correctness are sitting Indian-style and giving Chinese-cuts).
Our subs came and we talked about our mutual love of meat sandwiches. There is totally no way you are happier eating this sandwich than me, she murmured. I will remind her of this meal when she goes through her vegetarian phase someday, God forbid.
And then, because Supergirl is obsessed with albinos we talked about albinism – which led to a creaky discussion of genetics as I stumbled around the dusty boxes of my mind trying to remember and explain how dominant and recessive genes work. There is a small colony of albino squirrels on our side of the creek and when we saw that one had been hit by a car last summer, our family let out a collective moan as we drove by the small white splotch on side of the road. She wanted to hear all about the albino boy I saw in Florida when I was a young girl. How his skin was as pale as paper. How he only came out at sunset and waded into the ocean, bending his lanky frame into a question mark to dip the tips of the his fingers into the water. How he wore sunglasses even at sunset because his eyes were so fragile, so susceptible to the light we take for granted. She wanted to know if he was scary. She wanted to know if he was friendly.
I don’t know, I said. He was older than me. I didn’t try to be his friend.
Maybe you should have.
Maybe I should have.
Here’s a well kept secret. There is no better lunch partner than a kindergartner. They are as pure hearted, honorable, and wise as they will ever be – the kind of wisdom that comes from having no pre-conceived notions, no biases – only the ability to question, to reason, to see that next step in a logical sequence and jump to it with enviable agility. They are aware of gender differences, but as of yet completely unaffected and they inhabit their bodies with absolute joy and freedom. They are curious and unjaded. They are learning to read – to decode the ultimate mystery – the key to everything. They see beauty and humor in places we don’t even bother to look anymore. Kindergartners are magic. Pure magic.
I am so sad this year is almost over. I am so glad I let her stay home today.