Little Ellie.

“Well it’s fathers day and everybody’s wounded… ” – L. Cohen.

I spent a large portion of my afternoon today talking to a little girl I met on the grass by Bronte Aquatic Reserve. Her name was Ellie and she was three.

She was operating her own floristry and making deliveries to local community retail outlets when ever she could. She made me smell clovers, which I hadn’t done in years, and phone her to make various delivery arrangements.

We talked about her future and what she wanted to be when she grew up.

A fairy, of course. But she could wait.

She called me a “beautiful witch,” and then later changed her mind, deciding I was in fact a “wicked witch.” To which I didn’t really mind. She was gorgeous and engaging and we had one of the coolest conversations I’ve had in a long time.

Within an hour or so she was crawling all over me, reciting lyrics to her favorites songs, showing me her various ballet routines and describing to me how horrible her cousins are to her when they all play cricket together. She said she’d rather lie in the clover then play like that.

It was around this time that her mother approached me and asked if she was “bothering” me.

I said to the contrary, she’s a pretty amazing kid. Which I meant.

She, the mother then asked me if I wanted to adopt a three year old.

I didn’t like Ellie’s mother.

In fact, I didn’t like anyone in her family, except maybe her dad.

Her mother stood with her hands on her hips for most of the afternoon, telling various children off for one thing or another while other relatives reprimanded the other children for not bowling the ball properly, or not catching properly, or you know, generally not doing things ‘their way.’

Ellie seemed like a bit of a loner, and she sure did like to talk to herself. This reminded me a lot of myself at her age.  I was constantly talking to myself, spending hours and hours playing alone. A nanny of mine once approached my mother in fact, insisting ‘they talk.’ She expressed a concern for the amount of time I was spending talking to myself in the mirror. My mother asked her what her point was.

I was allowed to play make-believe.

I was encouraged to be creative.

To sing, to dance, to invent, to tell stories, to make things with my hands.

I didn’t have an extended family of fat bastards all sitting around in wooden chairs, scolding the children and telling them how to throw a ball.

Later in the afternoon Ellie’s father approached me and expressed his thanks for the time I’d spent with her. “She had two imaginary friends until four months ago,” he relayed. “I don’t know what happened to them.”

“Have you asked her?” I said.

The cranky mother intercepting, “Asked her what!?”

“Oh, honey I was just explaining how Ellie’s two imaginary friends have gone missing.”

The mother was anxious and fidgety and controlling and embarrassed that her husband had brought the topic to my attention. She reprimanded her partner for mentioning it at all and then promptly picked up her daughter and left.

I’d be lying if I said that a large part of my trajectory has not been marked by interactions I’ve had with children. Connections I’ve made with kids. I’m always talking to kids. I adore kids. And part of me really wanted to wrap little Ellie up and take her home with me this afternoon. Let her day dream and talk to her imaginary friends. Let her dance and run her flower shop. Let her sing. Let her dream.

Dream big, kid. Dream big.


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