today, as usual, brooke spent her day running around the house in a costume. she was a dog, which usually consists of some odd combination of her own clothes in "natural" dog colors w/ ears, snout & tail strapped on. now that she's 7, i rarely let her leave the house in a full-on costume like that because it's just starting to seem weird. people don't understand why there's a kid running around walmart on all fours barking & growling at them. but i will frequently allow her to wear a piece of the costume, such as ears or tail & i try to remind her to act like a human. i never dreamed i'd be having to tell my 7 yr old offspring that she's a human & to please act like it. she seriously believes that she has some animal DNA in her body. she told me today that it's one of her dreams that one day she'll be riding in the car, wearing her dog ears & snout & sticking her head out the window with her tongue hanging out & some news crew will see & film her & put her on the news as the amazing dog girl. when she's in costume, she really feels like she becomes one with it & it becomes a real part of her. it's like her grasp on reality shifts a bit & she no longer sees herself for who she is.
today at walmart she was scampering around the checkout area (wearing her dog ears, of course) while i was scanning & paying & i saw that she was over at the next register interacting with a lady & a couple other little kids. as usual they were looking at her oddly, as most people do when she's in costume, and then she ran back over to me & told me that she made them laugh. i asked her how she made them laugh & she said it was because she was sniffing them & they liked it. holy crap! who knew that i needed to tell my kid that she can't sniff strangers in public?! i mean, i wasn't watching as closely as i should have been, obviously, but i really hope she was doing a humanish form of sniffing rather than the real doggie deal of going straight for the butt/crotch area!
last weekend we were at the mall & ran across a group of people at a display who were selling sugar gliders which are tiny little marsupials. they like to hang out in your pockets or inside your clothes & will always come back to you if they fall on the ground. brooke, of course, fell truly, madly, deeply in love with these little critters & wanted desperately to take one home. it cost $600 & wasn't an option for us, regardless of how cute it was, but that didn't stop brooke's heart from breaking as i walked her, weeping, out to the car. we had taken a paper handout thing from the sales person & as soon as we got home, brooke cut out some pictures of the gliders & one in particular became her new pet. it was as if it became a real animal when she looked at it and petted it. she even wore a special shirt all the next day so that it would have a comfy pouch to sleep in while she romped about with it.
we went to a deli for lunch & had to stand in line for a while & there was a little girl in front of us. brooke kept holding the paper sugar glider out to the girl. i don't even think she said anything to the kid, just held that thing out with the sweetest, happiest & most expectant look on her face. and the girl just stared at her & the paper critter blankly. she asked someone else if they wanted to pet her glider.
i have a hard time watching those interactions in brooke's life which are entirely too common because it makes my heart ache for her. she sees the world through different eyes than the rest of us boring folks. her world is full of excitement & adventure & possibilities that only she can see. she wants so badly for someone else to be able to join her in her world, but the rest of us just stare blankly at the little paper thing or ears & snout & wonder what she's doing. wonder what she's talking about. wonder what's wrong with her & wish that she'd stop. i don't want to tell her to put the paper glider down because i don't want to be the one to make her sad. but i don't want her to be hurt by the world when some unkind person makes fun of her either. i don't know where the balance is between letting her be herself & be carefree & quirky and when i need to put my foot down & make her act "normal." i only care a little bit about how she's percieved by the world, but there is that piece of me that does care. i want people to like her & find her interesting as much as i do. i want her to act in a way that other kids can understand & relate to. but if i try to make her more like the rest of the world, then if people like her, they're not seeing the real brooke. they're seeing a mushed down version of her.
i wonder if this is something that i'll have to deal with through her whole childhood. or is there a time when she'll mellow out? will there come a time when i won't have to try to think of the different things i need to teach her that seem so obvious to the rest of us? like don't sniff strangers butts. but then again, her version of life is way more colorful & amazing & innocent. i wish i could find it within myself to join her in her adventures. if only i could cut loose & drop all my inhibitions & gallop around barking & growling with her, chasing my tail & howling in the wind. but if i did, we'd probably both end up on the news, only not for the fun reason she had dreamed.