Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Secret identity

Last summer, when Cady Gray had a sunny yellow dress covered with bright red apples, I dubbed her Apple Girl and made up a song celebrating her prowess. This year she has a green dress covered with strawberries, but she has suddenly embraced the Apple Girl persona.

Exactly where she absorbed the conventions of superherodom, I don't know. But she claims to have a cape (with apples on it) as she dashes around the house (with sound effects) going on "missions." I have been named "Second Apple Girl" and sometimes I am addressed by pretend walkie-talkie: "Second Apple Girl! Come in! Over!" When you ask her for an apple, she extends her hands dramatically as if there were lightning bolts coming from her palms, sending the apple to you.

The delight she takes in this particular pretense is unmistakeable; her eyes light up and her whole body gets into the act. If you send her on a mission, she says, "Ooooh-kay!" in a plucky can-do voice, and when she's completed the task, she comes running back to accept the accolades of her adoring public.

It touches me that she has claimed her first alternate identity with such joy. I know the comfort and thrill of feeling yourself to have special powers. On at least half of my walks to work, I look forward to my day in the persona of a medieval scholar or a fantasy heroine. Everything and everyone around me become props for my roleplay; all the world's a stage. A rich inner life can transform your world, your place in it, and ultimately, your self. Perhaps because Archer's ability to pretend has been slow to emerge, I'm moved by Cady Gray's easy engagement with her own imagination, and her excitement about exercising it.

1 comment:

Doc Thelma said...

Obviously, she's destined to attend Mary Baldwin College. Our annual day of celebration is Apple Day. I'll alert the admissions office to start setting aside scholarship funds immediately.