Wednesday, November 16, 2011
In this day of digital games and virtual reality, it is a joy to see my niece, H, (named after her auntie) engaged in hours long games of dress-up and imaginative play. In turns she is attired as a highlander in a Scotch kilt and cap with a large red tin as a drum; a lady trailing a green velvet skirt, long black gloves and a paper fan; a little red riding hood clad in a red shawl clutching a basket filled with apples and little treasures.
Today she is a Queen clothed in a froth of pink tulle, dripping jewels and a sparkly tiara, the royal mistress of a unicorn tethered to the couch with a silken purple ribbon. We've spent the past hour making little paper crowns for the unicorn and its retinue of ponies. H provides the voice for all. "You may kiss my hoof, Oh Queen," she says, bowing the unicorn to her own majestic presence.
She is a swoop of movement in the way only a child can be. Twirling around me in a lovely curve, chattering pell-mell.
"You are the nicest lady I've ever known in my whole life", she tells me, with the wisdom of five whole years of living. "Except for my Mummy", she adds, matter-of-factly.
"Of course." I say.
"Don't go home. I want you to stay here forever", she begs, her hands entwined in mine.
"My house would miss me," I tell her. "It would be so lonely. "
"Just think if your house started to cry and you went home and everything was soaking wet", says H, this image taking flight in her big blue eyes.
We wave at each other until my last craning glimpse of a little girl perched on the back of the couch, lips kissed to the window, is pressed into memory.