“Do I look like a businesswoman?” Girl queried, when she added a cardigan to her ensemble yesterday. What does she know of businesswomen? What does she imagine?

One who doesn’t easily get cold, though, Girl opted to leave the sweater in the car when we arrived at a friend’s birthday party yesterday.* About two minutes after arriving, she wanted her sweater. The businesswoman was back.

But of course, she wasn’t. She headed straight for the alpacas, and while she threw herself into the craft (dreamcatchers) and the cake-eating and the hiking in the woods (during which she took off her sweater), including a team effort to build a dam, the animals were the star of her show.

They always are: the dogs at her grandparents’ house, the “unicorn” at another friend’s party (a horse with a party hat!), rabbits and chicks at the previous party, the snake and turtles and frog but mostly the opossums at the town’s festival, the grasshopper at the cleanup day at the playground, the alpacas at the birthday party. She loves animals, and her love of them is an inextricable part of her nature.

In spite of the wardrobe-influenced job suggestion, Girl has said she’d like to be a veterinarian. Yesterday, on the way home from the party, I tried to gently warn her of the full range of work that veterinarians do, and she looked suspicious, then alarmed. To her, being a veterinarian means getting to cuddle all the bunnies, kittens, and puppies that she wants, the equivalent of a blanket of love,¬†for life. I wish that being a veterinarian were that way (I’ll bet my sister does, too!).

As we were finishing our short hike yesterday, Girl walked beside the farm owner, engaging her in a conversation of her own direction; on the way to the car, she ran back twice, once to ask for the owner’s phone number (she loved it there), and once to say that the “Beware of Dog” sign should say “Beware of Alpaca.” She is someone who can talk to others and make conversations, someone with interests and thoughts and hopes and aspirations – and jokes – of her own.

Tonight at dinner, she said of herself and her brother, “We wouldn’t be us if you hadn’t had us.” In the literal sense, that’s true, of course: without our parents, we wouldn’t exist. They’d be other children, or they just wouldn’t be. (Unthinkable!) But with the “We wouldn’t be us,” it’s good to remember that they are themselves: not me, the mama would would rather be scratched by a cat than hold a grasshopper; not their daddy, who is often shy around new people. Themselves. They have their own fashion sense, their own ways of interacting with the world, their own ways of understanding the world. They are who they are, both because of and in spite of us, their parents.

As we were leaving the party, she wanted her sweater back – and I unwrapped the sleeves from my belt loops and handed it to her. It might not be an alpaca blanket of love, but sometimes a cardigan will do, whether you’re a businesswoman or not.


*not unlike the time my husband and I went to Yellowstone in June, and I told him to bring a sweatshirt just in case; he told me that if he needed it, he’d eat it, and all these years later, I’m still waiting for him to begin that meal!