I like to play make believe with Ellie. It's probably my favorite thing to play with her because it enables me to relive some of my own childhood. A childhood that involved a lot of solitary play due to the fact that I moved all the time and often didn't have playmates at first. That coupled with the fact that I didn't have a sibling that was able to play with me until I was about seven made for a very imaginative me. Well, maybe that and the fact that, genetically, I'm just a touch crazy.
So this part of Ellie's childhood has been particularly enjoyable for me (except for when it makes me want to run away and join a convent) because I've introduced her to some of my favorite fantasy creatures: Mermaids, Unicorns, Dragons, Fairies, and The Like. We've amassed quite the little collection of these creatures from the thrift shop down the street that I am absolutely addicted to. Yesterday we added some amazing rocks (if you can even call them that they're so beautiful) to the collection and they became the glittering treasure that was guarded by a fierce dragon.
In the process of playing, Ellie put on part of her Halloween costume and I put on part of her Father's. After we had spent some time playing on the floor together, I decided we were going to walk to the store to pick up a couple of things I needed. She wanted to keep her flying unicorn costume on and I was to keep the King crown on because the game was to continue outside. And it did, she ran, er flew, all the way to the store flapping her tiny little arms and whinnying along the way. Occasionally when I needed her to look out for cars, I threw out a Kingly sounding, "HALT, Unicorn! There are cars, er, dragons about!" To which she would stop, look for cars, wait for me and we would cross together.
I let her do this whenever she wants. Dress up. Pretend. In public. Honestly, who am I to say no? If I wasn't wearing a pink feather boa and tiara in High School, then it was pants big enough to swim in and some crazy Japanese inspired top. My goal in life was to be an Anime character. I had pink hair, looked like Swiss cheese from all the piercings, and my parents still talked to me, albeit through gritted teeth on occasion.
So, there we were, the Unicorn and the King, in the store and for the most part people smiled and remarked on her endearing cuteness. But there were a few harsh looks and rude remarks. One in particular from the cashier. She looked at both of us like we were crazy and rolled her eyes. I explained that we had been playing dress up at home and decided to bring the game into the Real World. She rolled her eyes again. let me stop right here and say that if there is one thing I can't stand, it's rudeness. And if this little bitty was anything, it was rude. But I had to remind myself that not everyone was allowed to grow up in the environment that I was. An environment facilitated by an artist, subject to his own creative whims and vices. At times the emotional roller coaster he piloted was exhausting, but OH almost always it was liberating and just a touch mad.
And so I forgave her. And made a mental note that when the time was right. Now now, but someday. I would explain to my daughter that very important lesson that my Father taught me. It. Does. Not . Matter. What. ANYONE. Else. Thinks. Of. You. If all is right between you and The Big Man Upstairs, then bollocks to The World! Follow your heart. Listen for the sound of that little drummer that lives in all of us but most of us choose to stifle. Find your rhythm. March to your own beat. Open your heart so fully to life and all it has to offer that it may threaten to grow wings and take flight.
And yes, oh yes, there will be moments of intense heartbreak and pain, but if we don't let ourselves become bitter and continue to forgive and love and keep dancing to the song in our hearts, then in time, even those bitter moments can be savored to better appreciate what is sweet.
Someday we will have that conversation, but not now. For now, she's just a Unicorn and I'm just a King on our way from One Great Adventure to another. Blinders to the World dancing to the Music In Our Hearts.
And just because I think you need some music in your heart right now, have a listen to this: