Mali the More-Than-an-Imp

Our girl is so much fun -- and so much work. Consider this photo: This is her at last week's soccer camp. This is her reaction to winning "Wackiest Player" during the final day's award ceremony, for her Pirate Kitty Soccer Princess getup. When she got up to receive the award in front of all the parents and all the campers (and a very, very, very patient Leo and Iz, both of whom made it through the entire 30 minute ceremony with minimal complaints), her reaction was not the "thank you" that has been modeled and prompted and used for most of her 6.5 years, but a swanningly dramatic and rather entitled "FINALLY!" (The earth declined to swallow me up, much as I begged it to.)

She has spent most of her first week of school being a spy, laying out a stealth-friendly (all black) wardrobe, plus notebook and pen on official Spy Days (MWF). This idea she came up with on her own, though I have since downloaded Harriet the Spy, and we are listening to it in the car -- which I am now thinking might not have been a great idea as Mali is a little too intrigued by the idea of a spy route and listening at doors. However her school spy routine is on hiatus for now, as her first attempt at enlisting a confederate did not go well -- said confederate went rogue and promptly revealed Mali's spy plans to all the potential victims (the principled little weasel!). Plus Mali lost her notebook (which, thankfully, did not have her name on it -- she was crafty enough not to make that mistake).

Her "high-spiritedness" has already come to the attention of her teacher -- by the time I introduced myself to Maestra Atmósfera today,  she let me know -- very pleasantly -- that she had already consulted with Mali's previous teachers about best practices for handling our girl. And that Mali had already spent time at the "Thinking Desk." Sigh.

But not all is amiss at school. As we walked across across the campus and back to our car, children and adults kept calling out to her, saying goodbye or wanting to make plans. She turned to me and said with satisfaction, "Everyone here LOVES me!" I told her that must feel great, but that it's important to deserve and and reciprocate that love. We are definitely reading A Little Princess next.

And her very first piano lesson with the kindly Ukrainian piano teacher who has always doted on her went well. Mali's hands are small but strong, and she has an innate sense of rhythm. (Iz, whose spot Mali took over, has graduated to the more serious Russian instructor, as did her life-long friend Merlin). I was worried about Mali being defiant or grumpy, but perhaps her love of music (and love for the instructor) will prevail.

I don't know what we'd do with dull children, but sometimes I feel like we're living the parenting version of that never-actually-authenticated-as-Chinese proverb: "May you live in interesting times."


  1. But look at that joyful face! How could anyone not just adore her?

  2. She *is* adorable. But that's often the issue -- people excuse her mercurial behavior all the time because she's so damn cute. She's not going to be able to work the impish angle forever, so we need to help her learn how to be a reasonable human being.

  3. Mali sounds delightful and impossible at the same time. I confess that that's my favorite variety of child. I do think books really help kids understand the consequences of these things--and actually, harriet the spy does have a pretty solid lesson about the dangers of spying. plus the movie is awesome ;)
    I agree that kids who are both smart AND cute AND sassy can use that cuteness to get away with murder. But it sounds like you are on top of that ;)

  4. We'll watch the movie once we're done with the book. The unabridged audio version is 6+ hours long, we're about halfway through. But I agree, books (and movies) provided easily referenced examples.

  5. My son "gets away" with being different from his peers at school because he's really handsome. I can't help but think that his quirkiness would be picked on a lot if he weren't so attractive. It's a very odd position to be in: gratitude for a crap system feels like crap.

    (I do love hearing about Mali. What a pistol. The thing where she recorded Iz's meltdown still kills me. FWIW, if you haven't seen the HtS movie it's nowhere near as good as the book.)


Respectful disagreement encouraged.