I don't believe in reincarnation, but if I did, I'd put my money on the idea that Gloria Swanson has reinvented herself in the form of my three year old. Like a silent-film queen of the roaring twenties, the princess has been trying to call the shots around here since the moment she decided to attempt a debut before I reached the hospital. She slid out of the womb with a strength and confidence that made everyone present do a double take. Staring down at her little tightly-wrapped body during one of her first feedings, I predicted she would be a fireball who would blaze her own path in life.
Three years later, the princess has a personality that is much too large for her dainty little body. She's a fame seeker who collects jewels. Lately she has been working on a new language. In the doctor's office one afternoon, I ask her to stay seated. "Yes, My Highness," she bows and sits, enjoying the surprised laughter of onlookers. Holding up her pointer finger, she flashes her big red-jeweled plastic ring at the waiting room audience.
Like so many child stars, the problems of this princess are many, from her perspective, and there are not enough words in the English language to express her various emotions. Overwhelmed by the lunch choices which exclude her desire for two Dixie cups, she declares, "I'm cold! I can't find my blankee! The dog ate my cookie! GET TO THE HOUND YOU BAD DOG!" She points the dog to the door, instructing her to begin a journey on foot to the dog pound.
Meanwhile, the dog retreats to the corner where she can bark and run in her sleep in peace. The princess is growing more and more frustrated. She tries a scene that probably won her an Oscar from her previous life as a film queen. Her large eyes wide and ominous, she lowers her head, forlorn. Then she spins and drops to the floor, seemingly dead. As I step over her, retreating to the kitchen to eat my pancakes, I hear her shout a made-up curse, "OH COTCHA-KEETA!" She gets up and storms up to her room.
This princess is dramatic, even in her sleep. When I check on her, I notice that a costume change has taken place. She is sprawled out on her bed, dressed like Tinkerbell, tightly clutching her magic wand. She must have fallen asleep in the middle of casting a spell on the dog, or me.