Lil Sis has so many amazing qualities, but by far my favourite is her crazy sense of humour.
Even as a baby she loved making people laugh; now she’s six years old and will still do pretty much anything to put a smile on your face, whether it be a goofy walk, a funny face, or a quick-witted reply that has everyone in stitches.
She unapologetically goes against the grain, whether it be wearing a tutu to the shops or (like last weekend) a full face of vampire makeup, and I just adore her chutzpah and verve for life.
The other week OH took the girls to the local craft shop to spend their pocket money. Except, instead of coming home with a new packet of felt-tip pens, she returned with this rather fetching rubber witch’s nose.
‘She really wanted it,’ OH shrugged, when I look at him quizzically.
On the school run the next morning she pulled the nose out from her school bag and secured it around her head. ‘OK, so we’re wearing the nose today,’ I remarked. And she did. She marched up to the classroom door, while each of her classmates did a double-take. ‘Look at Lil Sis!’ they gasped, faces lit up by their grins.
When I picked her up, the first thing she did was put the nose back on to walk home. The next day she wore a red clown’s schnozz, the day after that, a rabbit’s nose and whiskers.
She was having fun, but – more than that – she was brightening other people’s days too. I’d see drivers double take as they drove past, and she had the school lollypop lady in stitches: ‘Lil Sis, you’ve really made me giggle,’ she said.
Yesterday it was the turn of the witch’s nose again, and Lil Sis wore it proudly as we walked to pick up her older sister. I was trailing slightly behind when two older girls pulled up alongside her.
‘Ewwww,’ I heard one of them remark nastily. ‘Your nose is so big, and ugly and gross.’ ‘Yuck,’ the second one added, ‘it even has a wart on it!’
They’d walked on by the time I caught up, and I didn’t want to make a big deal out of it, but a few seconds later Lil Sis pressed the nose into my hand. ‘Can you put this away, please Mummy,’ she asked.
I pulled her to one side. ‘You haven’t taken it off because of those mean girls, have you? Because you should never let anyone make you feel bad about yourself.’
‘I just didn’t feel like wearing it anymore,’ she replied, but I knew she wasn’t telling the truth.
And my heart broke a little bit.
Because I knew she’d experienced the first of what would be many moments in her life when mean girls would make her feel uncomfortable and self-conscious, and her self esteem would take a blow. When she’d question herself, and whether she was saying, doing or wearing the right thing. When she’d feel obliged to dim her quirky, radiant personality in order to ‘fit in’.
The next morning she didn’t put on the nose. ‘I just forgot,’ she explained, a little too flippantly, but I knew the comments were still preying on her mind.
We got to the road crossing, and the lollypop lady glanced over. ‘Oh Lil Sis!’ she exclaimed. ‘Where is your nose? Every day I look forward to seeing what you’re wearing; it’s the best part of my whole day!’
Delight spread across Lil Sis’s face, and I literally felt her demeanour lift.
‘See?’ I told her. ‘Look how many people love you wearing the noses! You mustn’t let a couple of mean girls spoil the fun for all of you.’
I’m not going to push it too hard, but I have my fingers crossed Lil Sis will decide to ignore the mean girls and wear her noses again. OH and I have ordered a whole pile from Ebay, so they’ll be ready and waiting if she does.
I’ll keep you posted.