on children's day, there being a special children's matinee by the sdt, i took sarah to the esplanade (her first time) to see an abridged act ii of the nutcracker. the outing was not quite so successful as i had hoped it would be. she fidgetted a lot and did not seem especially taken by the proceedings on stage and complained repeatedly of being hungry.(it went right through her teatime.) it's just possible also that, being a bit of a tiffany aching, she has not developped (or i hope it's only not yet) the capacity for aesthetic experience, though that might be untrue too, everyone, however insensitive, must have some aesthetic response. but she is instantly curious, and curious solely, about how they create smoke with dry ice, but the effect of that billowing smoke, the lighting, and the dancers seems to move her not at all, seem to have made no visual impact. she did ask, what is it meant to be? too much second sight. (though no third thoughts yet, i don't think.) but she is a reading child (though realist fiction only so far) and both the children enjoy movies, and believe a story while it's being told, so it's not for unwillingness to suspend disbelief - though ariel would cry for someone dying on tv, but sarah doesn't. she would say, dismissively, don't be stupid, it's not real, it's only acting. he, on the other hand, wouldn't believe in the crucifixion because he says there are too many bones in the hand for a nail to pierce through, so.)

and yet she can play imaginative games, which su-lin tells me her sisters can't. you can see it, the instant and conscientious subjection of herself to the rules of the fantasy we're playing out - in that sense she's fastidious like the

sea-thing child who has to rub out a bit of his self-drawn circle in the sand before it can come outside. playing with her is to see speechacts at work - all i have is to describe the scene, then my bed turns into an island, and the cushions strewn about the floor (poison sea) become magic rafts (red cushion) and seamonsters (green cushions), that brooch is a magic flower that would part the sea. but that thoroughness is rigid too - every detail must be accounted for - where i would use the unaccounted for details for loopholes, she would hold you to an accounting - what about those then, she says, pointing to a pillow, are they safe rafts or unsafe ones? i can't decide if that is her literal-mindedness, or total immersion in the game. even her brother (who always scares quicker and would try to stop the game) would ask for a pause saying, "auntie min, don't be a sound monster/hunting squid/pistachio monster* anymore." they enter into a game, and it would be so simple to walk out from it. all they need do is to say, we don't want to play anymore, and walk across the bedroom floor which would just be a bedroom floor, which would not poison them, and none of the cushions would rear up and swallow them, but they have decided that to play is serious, and to end play they needed to be released from the game.

*yes, pistachio monster. who leaves a trail of pistachios on the ground and when the chidlren followed it they found a monster at the other end, with shiny grin.