My daughter, Noa, walks into the living room, looking very presidential. Her long brownish-blond hair is tied back in a scrunchie. She wears a faux pearl choker, a silver watch bracelet (mine, circa 10 years ago), a plaid jumper and carries a leather briefcase (mine, circa now). She is all business.
The only thing that gives away her age (7) is her glasses-they are pink-shaped hearts with fake ruby studs. Never mind. She is more than prepared to tackle pressing world issues: She is ready for camp.
The theme that day: Wear a costume showing what you want to be when you grow up.
Now Noa has never heard of Skull and Bones (the name alone would put her dream catcher in a tizzy). Republican, Democrat-not on her spelling list, either. She does know George W. Bush, though, but says she would've voted for Al Gore. She is a diehard White Sox fan because she likes the name. She is a vegetarian and is known to say on many occasions: "Mommy, why are you serving dead animal again?"
My second-grader prides herself on being the best big sister in the world-her primary job. And she's always first in line to collect her $1 allowance on Sundays-her primary goal. She is fiercely independent; stubborn, opinionated, bossy, with a heart of gold. And she has no qualms making controversial decisions, like the time she wore a plaid shirt, striped skirt and polka dot socks to a party. She looked at my horrified expression and said, "This is who I am, Mommy. And I like me."
Noa for president. It has a ring to it.
Noa had solidified her presidential bid a few days back. She had been debating among dressing up as a rock star, teacher, painter, actress or journalist (a la Mommy). When I tuck her into bed that night, I could tell by the glint in her green eyes that something was percolating.
"Well?" I say, right eyebrow raised in anticipation.
"Why aren't there any girl presidents?"
"That, honey, is a question I've asked for years."
Noa sits bolt upright in her bed. "I mean mommies are the presidents of their house, why can't they be president of the White House?"
I look at her, at her mismatched teeth, half of them on their way in, the other half buried in the Tooth Fairy's treasure trove. Had I, a single mother, raised a budding feminist?
"Forget being a pop star," I say. "You've got to go for the big job. Noa, you would make a wonderful president."
She holds her teddy bear close to her chest, her eyes at halfmast. "I think so too."
The morning of her presidential debut, Noa wakes me at 4:30 a.m. to tell me she has to borrow my leather notebook, and she needs a pen that actually works AND had a cap (a rare find in our house).
"Go back to sleep," I growl. "Too early for all this. Even presidents sleep."
"Not this president, Mommy. I have to be ready."
Ever the journalist, after a good shower and a strong mocha, I am ready to face the chief head on. I tell my daughter that a good president needs to be clear on her opinions of the world; she has to have solid positions-especially those affecting the people living in her country.
Undaunted, she tells me to ask her questions and to write down her opinions. (Already, I am the designated press secretary). I pull out a capless pen and do as I am told.
Here's her platform-let the people decide:
The environment: I would have everyone plant their favorite flowers in front of their house, and anyone who litters gets their allowance taken away.
Campaign promise: I would vote more smart girls into office, and even boys, too. I would do more to help children in wheelchairs.
Medicine: I would make sure everyone who needs to go to the doctor can go. But no shots for anyone.
Economy: I would make sure that no one goes hungry, and that people don't waste food-especially at dinner.
Education: I would make sure that everyone has nice teachers, pretty folders, markers that work and that all kids do their homework before watching TV.
Crime: I would make sure that policemen give robbers enough money so that they wouldn't have to rob other people's houses.
War in the Middle East: I would make sure that people don't take other people's land away, and that all bombs are put away in locked boxes.
Children: I would make sure that no child is lonely, and that everyone has at least one good friend.
Let the record show that George W. Bush and John Kerry can fill their coffers to the brim, but they've got nothing over my daughter.
Of course, Noa's one stipulation is, if elected leader of the free world, she gets to paint the White House hot pink.