So the little one came straight off the school bus and announced before she got up the front steps good that she’s going to try out for the school talent show. “Maybe I can do magic!” she said excitedly, dancing from one foot to the other as she shoved the flyer in my face. “Or I can tell jokes!”
Ha’ mercy. The kid is only 6, and she’s already put herself in the running to be the Chris Rock of the 1st grade.
Um, I’m a little skerd—I’m not gonna lie. Here’s why: With only six years under her belt, Lila is quite the rabble rouser. Seriously, she’s a goofy goober who keeps the Chiles family home jumping—with lots of practical jokes, shrill singing, Michael Jackson-worthy dancing, and enough little sister antics to keep her big sister and brother on the run. The girl can even conjure up crocodile tears faster than Angela Bassett on the set of What’s Love Got To Do With It, and then, with salt water streaming down her cheeks, give a maniacal giggle to show you she’s not really crying.
Nick and I regularly wake up with night sweats just envisioning the kind of teenager Lila might be—the one making it hot for anyone and everyone involved. Phone attached to the ear at all times, shooing away little boys, orchestrating a gaggle of girlie hangers-on, brilliant but too fabulous for school work or anything that requires more thought beyond which skirt, lip gloss, and phone number she should use next. “I don’t know why that boy is outside in the car crying, mommy,” I hear her teenage voice whisper to me. “I told him it wasn’t going to work and he should get the hell on, but he claims he’s too distraught to drive. Loser. Anyway, I’m going to the movies with Bobby, k bubkins?"
Heaven help us.
Of course, all of my friends tell me to stop throwing the kid under the bus—she’s brilliant (she just got accepted into her school’s gifted program), funny (she keeps us all in stitches, a trait that could come in handy when she’s working a room), friendly (she hasn’t met a kid she’s not breathlessly best friends with), and, while mischievous, still a good kid when it counts, they insist. I can co-sign all of this. But she could be a mere knock knock joke away from transforming from the smart girl in the class to the popular one—less interested in books, consumed by the spotlight.
I guess I’d just be more excited if she came home waving a math competition flyer, or ecstatic about her wanting to get her Akeelah and the Bee on in the school spelling bee, or giddy over her dragging me to the computer to google an experiment or two for a school science fair.
But spotlight is okay, I guess, huh? I mean, it’s worked for Chris Rock and Dave Chappelle and Eddie Murphy and them, right? Who’s to say her star-turn as the Knock Knock Joke Queen of The First Grade is a bad thing. Maybe, just maybe I should fall back and let Lila be who Lila is—no holds barred. Because at the end of the day, in a society where too many girls are too often timid and intimidated and afraid to shine, this is just another sign of my Lila’s fearlessness. And for girls in this day and age, fearless shouldn’t be considered a bad thing.
No, here, fearless is impressive—an honorable thing. Something her mother, at age *whispers the magic number in her cupped hand* is still working on.
Yeah, my baby is fearless.
And hopefully funny enough for the judges at next week’s tryouts.
So who’s got a kick-booty knock knock joke for my girl?