I babysit for a little girl named Saigon. She is three, has a pixie cut, and is really great. I usually feel like kids her age are annoying and hard to deal with, but I love Saigon. She is a lot of fun.
When I go over, she pretends not to notice me for a few minutes and then demands that we go up to her room RIGHT THIS SECOND because the sick baby animals NEED us! It always begins with sick animals.
Saigon is the doctor and I am her assistant. Soon, she forgets about her animals and climbs into the large trunk in the middle of the room, shutting the top. I tell her that’s dangerous and cover the top with a blanket instead. She sits there silently, very still, for a few minutes before bursting out with a new idea for a game. We are now two queens who rule over Closetopia.
Queen Saigon yanks open the stuck door of her closet, and goes inside. When I was three I was far too afraid of the dark to do something like that. In fact, I’m still a little hesitant when Saigon ushers me inside.
“So, is this Closetopia?” I ask.
“No. Now this is where the Queens hide when bad people look for them.”
She tells me to be quiet so the witches don’t hear us, and to hold her hand to make sure I’m still there in the dark.
Out of nowhere, Saigon bursts through the closet door. I follow her, blinking at the light. “We have to be witches now! They know where we are!” Digging through the mounds of toys and clothes and stuffed animals, Saigon eventually finds what she is looking for. She puts a witch hat on her head and a pink tutu on mine. Now we are evil witches.
We brew up a potion in the backyard made of juice from the fridge and twigs from the ground. Then Saigon throws an imaginary person inside it. She runs upstairs to her trunk and throws the blanket over herself.
Five minutes later she comes out as a giant, smashing villages with her giant feet, scaring even the witches. She goes back to her trunk and comes out a bride. Into the trunk again, now a superhero. She pulls out an issue of People from a drawer and asks me to read to her. She sits on my lap in her cape and witch hat.
I read her a story about a celebrity wedding.
“Your mommy was a princess, right?” she asks me. She doesn’t wait for an answer. “I wish she wasn’t killed by the witches. Then she could marry your daddy again and live happily ever after, right?” I don’t say anything, and for a moment neither does she. “Can I watch Dora now?”♦