Four year old Anna sat in her car seat in the back of the van, her waist-length sable red hair woven into a rippling French braid, a pink bow the size of a sand dollar clipped to the side of her head. I sat in the front next to Gumpa as he turned onto Revolution Road. Instinctively I started singing the Beatles tune… “You say you want a re-vo-lu-shu-u-un, well you kno-o-ow….” Sarah immediately jumped in with perfectly aligned harmony as we bounced over the semi paved Puerto Penasco roads. From her seat in the back, Anna called out: “Hey! Hey! You’re messin’ wif my song!”
We kept on singing.
“You guys, did you hear me? You are messing wif my SONG!”
I turned in my passenger seat, trying to throw my voice back to her even if I couldn’t see her face. “You can sing with us, Bella!” I invited her to join in. She replied, rather irritated; “Not THAT song! You’re messing wif duh song in my head!”
Timo, sitting next to her with his iPod Nano headphones in his ears, remarked:
“It’s not in your head, Anna – I can hear it!”
Anna totally ignored Timo, and the rest of us for that matter, since we had ceased the harmonies. She continued with the little ditty she was making up at the time. Something about shopping in Mexico and Tuesday being Amy’s day.
Anna Bella is the ultimate pretender. She can seriously be in your space and totally not there, if you know what I mean. This afternoon I was chopping garlic and browning pork for marinara sauce. She sat at the counter beside me as I worked, probably a good 90 minutes. The whole time she had her lips moving. Half the time there was a pretend conversation going on between a small bobble head penguin wearing a cowboy hat and a little wooden bobble head turtle. She encircled them with the spent glow sticks from last night’s night games. She hid them under the rim of her cereal bowl, and slid them to the next stool as she shifted closer to the pineapple sitting on the granite counter top. Half the time she speaks for her imaginary cast of characters. The other half she sings a sort of narration. Writes little songs, some of them amazingly good, changing the lyric as her story progresses, but often coming back to her make believe chorus. She sings to herself alone, not caring a whit about who might be listening. This afternoon she sat in the sand in front of us as Gumpa worked on some legal cases and Gummy dozed off between paragraphs in her book. I listened as she told her story, the one about the princesses and the sand castle and the little boy and whatever else she wanted to add to her story. She sat in her yellow swim suit, her chest bent over against her knobby little knees, her feet looking like cute little emery boards with the sand collected on her wet skin. Her hands moved, and her legs, and her feet and her arms, all responding to the story line in her lyrics; the music in her head drifting out like the music that wafted over the porch in the condo down the beach.
Anna has her own little world, sweet and pure and friendly. There are interesting stories in the neighborhoods of her world; and behind them all is Anna’s soundtrack. It’s in her head all the time. If you try singing your own songs while her show is playing she will let you know it! “You’re messin’ wif my song!” she’ll say. As soon as you’re quiet she gets back to business, like nothing ever happened. Her high pitched falsetto four year old girl voice dancing up and down a storyline of her own making. Everyone in our family is welcome to write their own songs. That’s cool. Just be careful if Anna’s in the room, cuz you won’t want to mess with Anna!