When I bought my little girl Marcia the small clear backpack, it was because I’d been sold on its two main advantages: Getting Marcia through her school’s security as quickly as possible, and keeping things organised. Marcia’s smart, but she’s a dreamer. She’s a dreamer now and in constant need of reminders about everything – I can’t wait to see what she’s like when she’s seventeen and actually has things to worry about!
Part of Marcia’s dreaminess plays out in a pretty rich imagination. Marcia can spend days on end pretending one thing or another. She once pretended to be invisible for three days, and nothing I or her father said could convince her otherwise. Another time she pretended she could speak Spanish, which was strange, but kind of fun. She spent a week babbling away like John Lennon in the song Sun King, making words that sounded Spanish but which meant nothing.
Her imagination also plays out with her Elephant, Mr. Trunk. Mr. Trunk is a beat-up old grey stuffed animal we found at a garage sale. Marcia has loved him for years, and brings him everywhere. She swears he talks to her.
Yes, if Marcia didn’t have a lot of friends and wasn’t doing so well in school, we’d be a little worried! As it is, we chalk it up as just an active imagination. Besides, Mr. Trunk seems to give pretty good advice.
A problem arose when she started the new school year. Some of her friends had decided to grow up over the break, and made fun of Marcia for carrying Mr. Trunk around. We spoke to Marcia about it, and while she was upset that her friends were being mean, she was also stubbornly opposed to dropping Mr. Trunk. So I had a brilliant idea: Why not slip Mr. Trunk into the clear front pocket of her pink backpack, and she’s be able to see him and whisper to him, but she wouldn’t have to carry him with her all the time.
Marcia was intrigued. After a quick consultation with Mr. Trunk, she agreed, and we sent her off to school with her boon companion safely ensconced in her backpack, with some peanuts for sustenance. Marcia also requested that Mr. Trunk be given his own mobile phone so he could call for help if he was hungry or suffocating, but we drew the line there. We’re indulgent parents. Not crazy parents.
Marcia’s friends soon moved on to other targets, and Marcia seemed to quite intelligently decide that she didn’t really want friends such as those. Going to school became a breeze. Marcia was happy to race off with her elephant, she had no trouble getting through the school’s overzealous security apparatus, and she could pretend all she wanted about talking elephants and no one else was the wiser. Parenting: It just requires the right backpack.