In which time is an imaginable quality, and/or a stronger need to disimagine time…
This is how Not to be a Wendy (even though that is a pretty name). So first, you keep everything pink. You might have heard of “keeping something green”, which means to stay young too, like a plant or a tree stays young inside. But I think if you keep everything pink, outside, it says to the world, I am not going there, to black, to goth, to public transportation and staying home alone. I am staying pink, like hearts, and being driven around, and tea parties, and fairies. Keep your room filled with pink, right up to the brim, like, every single thing that can have a color, keep it pink. Even if you maybe get sick of it, in the night, alone, and you wonder if that is the thing that makes your head ache and your stomach hurt when you wake up. That doesn’t matter. The pink is really for them, actually, its like a signal, I guess, to them, to say, “I am still little. Your problems and divorce and depression stuff is over my head, so don’t mention it or expect me to do anything about it.” And even if your clothes start to not fit you quite right, and be too small, so your butt crack shows (which your stupid sister told you about), and your belly sticks out when you raise your hand at school, keep those pink clothes and wear them anyway. The little ballerina skirts and leggins and tshirts, all pink and pretty pretty, sparkly pink sneakers, that is what is beautiful to little girls, and so you wear that stuff every single day and pink clips in your hair too. Do not let one single pink thing be given to goodwill, because that is when they will start thinking you can take care of yourself.
Next what you have to do is keep your voice super high and pretty pretty light; a little girl who talks about sweet things and imagination things has a high voice that floats up above everything and stays high up. You sing so pretty and soprano, higher than anybody else, (or at least higher than your old best friend, who is a stupid alto, for petes sake, ug), and when you are asked to sing for everybody, you make sure you sing so high that EVERYBODY talks about how high you can sing and how pretty it is. Because the dumb altos don’t sing leads, everybody knows that, they sing harmony, and are not the pretty singers. Even if its hard to keep on pitch, and even if you can kinda hear that you are a little bit off sometimes, its better to sing high and wrong than to give in and sing low. Talk in that high voice all the time, especially to parents of other kids, like your old best friend. Talk to her mother in that voice, and when you can see her eyes get squinty, like, she is having a hard time listening to you, then make your voice even higher, because you know she wants you to grow up, and you know she can’t stand the way you talk to her, like she isn’t a real person at all, she is just a person who drives you guys around. And especially when your old best friend’s mother swears, push your voice up higher and say, like, “Mrs. -----, when you are cursing, can you just say “beep” instead?” And then look all wide eyed and sweet at her, and like a little hurt too. And then when she looks at you in the rear view mirror, because you’re in the car with her, and she’s mad about driving, and you can see her controlling herself from saying something, then you do your big smile, but a little trembly, so she can see you don’t like hearing all the curse words. Keep your voice so high up that it even hurts your throat, and you are always a little hoarse. Because as soon as you let your voice get low, that’s when they start thinking you can handle things you don’t want to handle.
Ok, now, because its kind of obvs that you need a bra and that you’re taking the high school test next month, and that you got your “pumpkin”, and all that stuff, you have to do some extra stuff to stay little. So like, when you are doing things with your old best friend, like projects, make sure you act “grown up” about decisions. This is kind of tricky, but it works. If you “act” grown up, if you dress up and write a speech and come to the group meeting prepared to take control and tell the weaker ones what to do, if you really make a stink unless you get your own way, if you cut through all the things they are saying with your super high voice, if you just pretend not to understand if your old best friend gets hurt feelings when you take charge and when you push past her, if you stick with your plan no matter what, then all the adults will shake their heads and leave you alone! I swear to god its true, they will make phone calls later that explain you to each other, and they’ll say, like, “she’s just a child, she doesn’t understand, really, how she comes across. She has to make her own mistakes, and when she’s ready to learn, to grow up a little, that’s when she’ll change…” And they will take their kids aside, and explain to them how come they have to be tolerant of you, and that its not really your fault you are like this, because, parents, and how lucky they are to not be like this, or have divorce stuff happening.
And you know what, even though the other kids start to have less and less fun when you’re around, and even when your new best friend, who is 3! years younger than you starts to want to take public transportation and is a little sick of your regular mermaid games and tea parties, and even if have to kind of admit that your old best friend might be right about trying some other food than chicken fingers when you go out to eat, and you guess you might have to start paying attention to email and texts from your friends because your mom doesn’t want to do it for you any more, or like, if she can’t because she’s in bed depressed and stuff; even then, just when you might think you have to start growing up a little, you don’t! Not really. Because you can just do this amazing thing where you refuse. You just kinda live two lives- one on the outside where you get straight A’s and go to high school and get home by yourself and make your own dinner, where you stop re-reading Little Women and Harry Potter all the time, and where maybe you are done with Gilmore Girls and that Australian mermaid show. And then another, separate life on the inside, where you crunch yourself down into the littlest, tiniest person who doesn’t know how to do grown up stuff, who deserves to be protected from the big awful fights and new marriages and new ½ sisters, who doesn’t have to think about money, or too small apartments, or obesity, or problems, and who gets to stay curled up, super comfortable, on the pink canopy bed in your mind, and pretends to be a super cute rainbow sweetheart lovely mermaid, floating away.