Monday, June 11, 2012

Fishing for Mermaids

Here she is. See the twinkle in her eye? :)
James and I drove to my Youngest's house to babysit for a bit late last Saturday afternoon, and Miss Avery (my 3-year-old grandbug) conned the two of us into watching Disney's 'The Little Mermaid' for the billionth time while she ate her supper. 
The first time we all watched it together, Avery sat between me and James on the couch and used my arm to cover her eyes when Ursula the sea witch robbed the mermaid Ariel of her voice. Then when the film was over she dubbed me Ursula and herself Ariel and we played 'Little Mermaid' together. Grampa James got to be dashing Prince Erik, a character in our play that was never called upon to do anything, and so he sat on the sidelines and watched instead. (Her little brother -- the real Prince Erik -- was not given a role at all. He apparently wasn't old enough for our game.)
I played Ursula to the best of my ability, curling my fingers and arching my eyebrows and mwa-ha-haaaaaaaaing with evil delight. It was a fun part to play and Avery soon saw the advantage in it. It didn't take long for her to switch our roles and soon she was playing Ursula most often, snatching my voice away with wicked glee and refusing to give it back. And I really played up Ariel, too -- pointing at my throat in a panic and silently begging for mercy while Avery crossed her arms and shook her head at me, ignoring my pleas. Her pretend power was obviously intoxicating, but eventually her soft heart won out and she'd zap my voice back. (Unsurprisingly, when the movie ended on Saturday she again asked me to play Ariel to her Ursula, and I couldn't help but think how important that pretend power must be to someone who's only three years old.)
At dusk last Saturday evening I walked Avery to the nearby lake to look for tadpoles while Grampa James stayed home and played with her little brother Erik. She brought her fishing pole and I brought the bucket and the two of us sat on the edge of the dock and gazed down into the shallow water while she dunked the rubber plug on the end of her line. 
"Hmmm. I'm not sure I see anything," I said. "Well, I see water bugs," said Avery. After a while she thought aloud that perhaps something would come to her 'hook' if she sang, so she did. And then she feigned a tug on her line and reeled it in. "Look Gramma, there's a mermaid on my hook! Put her in the bucket!" I grabbed the bucket and in she went.
Five invisible mermaids later, Avery pretended to catch an invisible sea witch. There was much fun shrieking and feigned panic and shouts of "throw her back!" A handful of high school kids partying on the end of the dock walked past us on their way to the parking lot and a boy (seeing the plug on the end of Avery's line) snickered, "Catch anything?" And Avery immediately piped up in her little lisp, "Uh-huh! We caught five mermaids! And a sea witch, too! But we threw her back before she could take away our voices!" 
Everyone stopped in their tracks. All that was missing was the sound of crickets. And then after a moment of stunned silence a girl whispered, "That. Is. SO. CUTE."

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