Archive for October, 2011

Sparkle Girl’s Brilliant Idea

This column appeared in the October 2011 issue of Forsyth Family magazine:

In the car one day, I was griping to Garnet about the vexing behavior of politicians in Washington when Sparkle Girl piped up from the back seat that she thought they should move the capital to Hawaii. With everything being so beautiful in Hawaii, she thought, people would automatically treat each other better there.

An excellent idea, I said. A little while later, Sparkle Girl asked whether there was any chance that, if they started working on it now, the capital could be in Hawaii by next year. Wondering where that question came from, I said, “Why do you ask?”

“Well, at school, the eighth-grade class goes to our nation’s capital,” she said. Ah. All became clear. If the capital were in Hawaii a year from now, Sparkle Girl would get to go to the place that, in recent days, has topped her list of places she wants to visit one day. (By “one day,” I mean “tomorrow if we would let her.”)

It galls Sparkle Girl that, at the advanced age of 12, she can still count on the fingers of one hand the states she has visited and that she has yet to set foot outside of the United States. With her mother and me showing no signs of slaking her thirst for travel by, say, booking her on a “Penguins of Antarctica” or “Paris in the Spring” tour, she bides her time until we come to our senses by adding to her list of places that offer fun possibilities. Someone tells a story about the grandeur of Yosemite, and she says, “Ooh! I want to go there.” Savoring a piece of kappa maki sushi, she imagines that the sushi in Japan must be even tastier and decides that she wants to pop over on the trip she has long been planning to China.

Mr. Doobins has expressed zero desire to join his sister on any of her travels. In his imagination, he thinks nothing of zipping across galaxies to planets light years away to quell beasts terrorizing the locals. On Earth, though, he enjoys being at home. More than once, he has turned down the offer of a trip to Mayberry for a scoop of ice cream because staying put was more attractive.

One day, as he lounged on our bed with crossed legs and fingers laced behind his head as he leaned back on the pillows, he announced that he liked living here and that he planned to stay with us forever. The day may come, though, when staying with us looks different. Animals that Garnet considers “dear” hold the same allure for her that far-flung places hold for Sparkle Girl, and she wants to have far more than a dog and cat one day. (See the “tomorrow” note above.) Undeterred by my observation that a herd of Nubian goats would, no doubt, run afoul of city ordinances, she has been talking about getting land in the country once both kids graduate from high school.

Maybe Mr. Doobins could keep the house in Winston-Salem and I could slip out for a visit at feeding time.