The Little Acorn
by McKenzie James
My Goddaughter called yesterday to tell me she just got her beautiful, long hair cut into a short pixie style. “Short hair is in now”, she told me with the usual authority of a sixteen year old aware of all the latest cultural conventions.
“Of course it is”, I replied, having just grown mine out from the short cut I’ve worn for years.
As certain as she was about the current fashion trend she was a bit reticent about how it looked on her. “I’m sure it’s lovely”, I told her, “But if you don’t like it don’t worry. Like I told you the first time you talked me into getting your hair cut when you were three the beauty of hair is that it always grows back.”
At three she was convinced she wanted the hair dresser to cut her hair short “just like Godmom’s”. She begged to have it cut. She told the woman over and over again she was absolutely sure it was what she wanted. We left the hair salon, the one with chairs shaped like animals and special cartoon videos for the kids to watch so they’ll sit still during their haircut, and the first time she caught site of herself in a shop window she began crying uncontrollably and couldn’t stop, blubbering over and over again, “my hair is gone, my beautiful hair!”.
“I remember Godmom”, she tells me now on the phone. “You know I wrote that story as part of my autobiography for school.”
“Really?” I replied, always happy to know when the girls have a lasting memory of our time together.
“Yeah, we were supposed to interview someone and ask them about a story from our childhood and I didn’t want to interview anyone so I just pretended I interviewed you and wrote it up.”
Now, as a parent, I knew the correct response to this last comment, and I followed through and told her it was unethical to write something and pretend she’d interviewed someone when she hadn’t. “Don’t worry”, she replied, “I made you sound cool”.
Inwardly, however, I had to admit I was impressed. It shows an imagination and writing ability that not everyone is capable of. I did something very similar my sophomore year in college. I took a Child Psychology class and my term project was to meet with a child between the ages of three and six several times and write up my observations about our interactions and their play. Well, I didn’t know any children in that age group back then so I simply made up a five year old and observed her in my mind, writing about how she acted and the things she said. My project came complete with the child’s simple drawings (which I did myself). I remember feeling guilty (I still feel a bit guilty relaying it to you now) but I received an “A” on the project, and in the class, and couldn’t help also being pleased with myself.
So, while I’m telling my God Daughter it was inappropriate of her to pretend to interview me for her class I’m actually thinking, “The acorn doesn’t fall far from the tree”. Even though we aren’t blood relations, and share no family connections at all, she sometimes looks and acts a great deal like me. I realize regardless of how misguided her actions may have been my heart is swelling with pride that she takes after me at times.
Unfortunately, although I’m sure she is like me in many ways, including both good and bad traits, it’s usually the rather naughty ones that get noticed. It’s times like this when her Dad looks at me with a quizzical look and I’m fairly certain he’s asking himself, “Were we wrong to allow our girls to spend so much time with her during their formative years?”