Child of the Volcano
Recently we temporarily adopted a little girl, sort of. She knocked on the wall of the hallway and informed me that she was here to live with us because she had lost her entire family in a tragic volcano eruption.

"It was the lava," she said solemnly, looking remarkably like our four year old, right down to the curls.

"I imagine it was very dangerous," I said, noting her serious demeanor, appropriate for a recent orphan.

“Yes, it was. There was a fire.” She looked up, either checking for a smoke alarm or recalling the eruption.

Mireya, who was now the orphan named Sophie (which, incidentally is the name of our real daughter's real best friend), came with an imaginary small bag of belongings which she dutifully unpacked.

"Well," I said, "let me show you around."

We toured the house and I pointed out where the bathroom, kitchen, snacks and playground were. She noted each location politely, nodding and clearly committing the strange environment to memory. We talked a little about the rules. Where to put your dirty clothes. Where the shoes go. The "scrape your dish" rule.

Then I introduced her to our two dogs, whom she agreed were very nice. She asked me to repeat their names twice, because she wasn't sure who was who.

I have to say, she was so exceedingly pleasant that I wondered, briefly, if we could make this arrangement permanent.

For about 24 hours we adopted the child of the volcano, introducing her to Grammy, her adopted sister and her adopted father. In fact, Daddy, when he heard the story of the volcano, insisted it was simply too sad and he just couldn't bear hearing about it ever again.

Periodically we'd all slip up, forgetting that she wasn't Mireya, hadn't lived here forever, and had no idea where she might find a fork for her dinner. She'd smile and remind us that she was the orphan who came to live with us, and naturally needed some extra assistance.

This year we've seen many incarnations of our four year old. She's been a princess, a secret agent, a finishing school student, a new girl in school, and a very scary monster. As the spotlight shifts onto a new character, I find myself wishing for an encore of the child of the volcano.

That kid even picked up her socks. Try to get a princess to do that.