The everything child

She sits like a cabbage at the puppetplay, refusing to take off her wintercoat and tucks teddydoll into its fleece lining. A string of sweatbeads gather on her nose, but in a threatening whisper insists she won't,m to leave her alone, and locks the doll's rubber thumb into its rubber mouth. After marionettes, a chorusline of children topped in a collection of hats recite "Happy Birthday to Earth" poems. Brooding, she insists she can write better, speak louder and despite beavercap and collapsible tophat's enthusiasm, the whole show stunk,m like a skunk,m she emphasizes. In the taxi home, she whacks her doll and has to take care of its broken arm. In her room, she sits in the closet, packing her plastic suitcase with decals of ducks and dogs. Dinnertime, she eats with red mittens. And bedtime, as I tuck her in, she yanks me down, kisses me hard and says: Bad children need love too!m

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