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Somehow or other, JoyBoy and I have managed to pool our genes and come up with someone magical.  Her name is Anabel and if you’ve read this blog for any time at all, you’ve met her before.  She’s always been highly intelligent and unusually kind, but in the last year, another amazing quality in her young life has come to light, dazzling in its eccentric, unexpected brightness.  In the very midst of  14-year-old peers, clad head to toe in clothes trumpeting name brands out to all of Middle School Land, walks Anabel.  She’s wearing an apron.  She’s not in Home Economics or headed for some messy Science lab.  She flaunts its yellow ginghamyness for the sheer, unconventional joy of it.  Other days, she wears her beloved Daddy’s cast off XL teeshirts, which say bold things like Field AgentJohn Deere across their fronts.  Only for the Anabel version, she makes them strapless, pushing her narrow little ribcage through the Daddy-sized neck holes.  She pushes the man-sized sleeves inside themselves, serving as pseudo-pockets.  All of this she wears over tights and a teeshirt of her own size.  The flourish (as though it were needed) is a thick black satin ribbon encircling her ribcage, tied in a confident and oversized bow.  Ah.  My Girl.  I look forward to seeing her enter the kitchen each morning for breakfast.  I know there is a surprise in wait for my viewing pleasure.  Colors – flamboyant brazen colors – are her dear friends.  She prides herself on the exploration of absolute virgin territory in the realm of clothes and fashion.  On Superhero Day at school, her eye-makeup was completely different from one eye to the other.  She looked fantastic.  I think I’ve mentioned the tunic adorned in masses of pinkly enthusiastic pigs.  Her favorite place to shop is Value Village because that’s where you can find the most extraordinary things.  I can assure you that there are not masses of like-minded 14-year-olds flocking to the same ensembles – the gigantic multicolored ponchos, the  faux fur time-worn old coats – rushing to see who can get to them first.  She is a fashion law unto herself.

I love to goad her into wearing styles I love, but am not prepared to don for myself at this age.  Frankly, there is very little goading involved and the deliciousness of the prospect of a brand-new outfit rockets straight to her head, rendering her nearly exhilarated.

A lovely, gentle-souled teacher put her arm around Anabel’s waist at school one day and said, Now tell me all about your outfit today, Anabel.  Anabel proceeded to do so with great enthusiasm and then laughed as she told the story to us at home later on.  She’s so whole.

I think that some of the seeds of this new passion of hers have sprouted because of the years of uniform dressing that have been her lot up until this year.  She hated the sameness that she and her peers had no voice in establishing.  Though rebellious isn’t a word that leaps to mind as I think of her, she would try to sneak a colorful tank top under her uniform top back in the monotonous day, just for that heady flash of color.  Her fingernails were almost always glitzily decorated.  She did what she could to get by and not feel squashed. Individualism means a great deal to my first-born girl.

Anabel marches to the beat of her own drummer, and fortunately for us as parents – for she would be a formidable force to contend with otherwise – we really like the beat we hear resonating through her young life.  It’s so distinctive and so very, very Anabel.